Thursday, April 2, 2009


So a little more thought and detail about the system I was talking about yesterday. This would be purely/primarily a combat mechanical system for a board/minis game simulating arena fighting. Possibly for adventurers fighting one another for treasure in a dungeon, but that might be something more advanced-- where you deal with environments and obstacles. Generally, as I'm viewing it we have a small group of players or one-on-one gaming without a referee.

Initially players choose from a pregenerated set of characters to play. This would cover the classic fantasy archetypes. They'd be balanced among one another. A later module for the rules would add in mechanics for modifying these characters or creating new ones from scratch (obviously a point based system would be needed there). I'll come back to some ideas on that later (special cards for characters).

So characters would have a set of stats:

*Physique PH-- represented as a bonus, ranging from +1 to +3 or so. This would add to damage dealt by physical weapons. It would also be used for grapple contests. Also for stun checks.

*Skill SK-- again represented as a bonus. This would be the bonus for 'to hit' tests.

*Agility AG-- again bonus. This would be used for reflex tests and defense tests.

Will WL-- again bonus. This would be used for resisting magic and for magical damage.

*Move MV-- the number of spaces a character can move on a round.

*Wounds WD-- how much damage a character can take in the course of the game

Equipment would be:
Armor-- absolute value reducing damage from an attack. Higher value armor reduces MV and AG.

Weapons-- have type, damage bonus, and possibly attack bonus (for accuracy). Might have a special ability. If ranged, has penalty for shots above a certain distance.

Characters also have one special constant ability-- like being able to keep a card when they flush their hand. This would be a simple power.

Finally, characters would also have a set of five abilities-- with higher difficulty levels. The five levels would be:
Three of a Kind
Small Straight
Full House
Four of a Kind

The actual abilities at each of those levels would vary from character to character.

Actual Play-- and I'm putting in some numbers here mostly as placeholders. I'll have to run some of the probabilities to see what works.

Each player begins with their own deck of standard playing cards-- Joker removed, I'm going to assume. Their figures start at either end of the battlefield-- or as otherwise dictated by the scenario. There might be some mechanic for set up and position.

Players draw the top card of their shuffled deck. Suit cards have their standard printed value, Aces count as 1, and Face cards count as 11. I might have the terms here incorrectly. Players add their Agility to this number. In the case of ties, Black trumps (i.e. wins). That player takes the first action and then play will alternate between the two sides. If the result remains a tie, pull again.

Note: That's going to be a standard mechanic throughout-- with contests pulled like this and either Red or Black trumping depending on the test involved.

Players discard cards drawn for this initiative test-- each player has their own draw and discard pile. The discards should be played face up. Each when specified by the rules of an action or ability, both decks cannot be examined by either player during the game.

Next each player draws a hand of five cards.

Beginning with the starting player, each in turn takes an action.

Move-- discard any card and move up to your Move in squares.

Assess-- discard and redraw your hand. I'm debating whether or not to allow a character to keep one card or have that as an ability track for characters.

Focus-- set aside a card. You may use this card at any point in the future. If you Assess, this card is not discarded, but remains. Essentially, this allows players to take an action to temporarily raise their hand limit until the spend that card. When you set a card aside for Focus, you draw a card to bring your hand back up to five. Should there be a limit on the focus pool size?

Attack-- for attacks, you have to be within range. Ranged attacks have a penalty if the target is too far away. Both players select a card from their deck and then reveal simultaneously. The standard number values apply-- with one exception. If one player plays a Face card and the other plays an Ace then the Ace has a value of 13. The attacker adds his Skill to his card's value (plus any weapon bonus) and the defender adds his Agility to his card's value. Compare the results--

If the attacker's total is higher, then the attack hits-- move to damage resolution.

If the defender's total is higher, then the attack misses.

If there is a tie, then Red Trumps. If both players tied and played the same color, then if both cards are Red the attack hits and if both cards are Black the attack misses.

Resolving Damage-- If the attack hits, the Attacker pulls a card from the top of his deck, sight unseen. To that value, he adds his Physique bonus (if a physical weapon) or Will bonus (if a magical spell) plus any damage bonus for the weapon or attack. He also adds the difference between the final results of the initial combat pull [note: should this be a standard element to reward good play or should it be for a special ability]. The defender subtracts his armor value from this damage total and then subtracts the remaining amount from the character's wounds. If a character goes to zero or less, that character is KO'd.

I'm thinking that if a player draws an Ace for the random damage pull that could be a critical hit of some kind.

Move and Attack-- a character may move and attack on the same action by playing a Face Card as their Move card first, and then immediately making an attack.

Withdrawal-- if a character is engaged in melee, they may attempt to withdraw and move away. Players draw and add their AG to the value. Black trumps in ties, other ties leave the character stuck in melee. If successful, the character may make a full move away by spending a card.

NOTE: In all cases when a character spends a card for an action from his hand, he redraws immediately back up to five cards.

Defend-- I'm wondering if there needs to be a defend action—like an all out defense or perhaps a moving defense-- extra card spent to move and gain a bonus to defense (maybe having to spend a face card).

Reshuffle-- characters reshuffles immediately if they run out of cards. Players may reshuffle early by discarding an Ace and then shuffling their discards into their draw deck. The Ace discarded is not shuffled back in but starts the new discard pile.

Those are the basics, and by that I mean the skeletal structure I'm thinking of. Have to consider:
*modifiers for obstacles and cover.
*a critical hit system
*what standard character abilities are going to look like
*what the special abilities are going to be like. How are they revealed-- there's a question of information here-- if they're standard attacks, opponents will see the person playing multiple cards and will know something's coming. Have to figure around that circumstance.
*armor and weapons-- should be standard for the pregen characters-- all characters should have some kind of ranged attack?
*combat statuses-- from abilities and critical hits.
*much later, considerations about character customization and purchase.