Sunday, March 11, 2012

Mass Effect Tabletop: Combat Rules (Beta)

Check it out!

Hell, test them out, just remember to tell me the results. I’ve been putting alot of work into this design for the past couple weeks, need to playtest this foundation before I start nailing down the specific details of the next stage.

If you’re in Portland, Oregon and would be up for meeting to playtest this coming weekend (or even weekday mornings), send me a message!


Thaumiel Nerub said...

Did I miss the premise of agressive vs. defensive not explained in rules that much?

Otherwise I think these rules can work for simple skirmishes and aren't as detailed as d20 and might work well enough without minis also.

Dagda (Brooks Harrel) said...

They really both just do 1 thing. Aggressive means you can attack, Defensive triples the bonus you get from cover.

Anonymous said...

I can see a few problems right off, the first being the duration of a round. By having it be only 1 or 2 seconds then it will take forever (in combat time) for reinforcements to arrive. My advice would be to extend the combat round to 10 or 12 seconds.

The second problem is the lack of a unified roll system. If I'm rolling a attribute check its 1d6, If I'm making a ranged attack it's 3d6, unless they're concealed in which case I'm rolling 2d6. This is just not very good design and I'd expect better from you. My advise here would be to have everything handled with 3d6.

That said you've done some good stuff in the past and I'm sure you'll iron this out into something good.

Dagda (Brooks Harrel) said...

I'd like to say this politely but clearly: Extending the round to 10 or 12 seconds would completely alter the system. That's long enough to run from one side of a multiplayer map to the other, or for a high-level character to shoot multiple enemies while using 3 or more biotic and/or tech powers in rapid succession. I'm sure it's theoretically possible to make an interesting Mass Effect game with a premise like that, but it would be utterly impossible for that approach to capture the intense moment-to-moment decisions that make the video game's combat so exciting.

Making every tabletop combat encounter involve fighting multiple enemy waves. . .it would make Dragon Age 2's combat encounters look like quick-time events. I don't want to make the players kill 50+ enemies every time they fight. I want to capture a slice of that action, to zoom in and capture all the brilliant little details of that frantic 20-second last stand your team had at the end of Wave 8. The tabletop medium is naturally better suited to a task like that.

Why should I use a unified roll system to represent different actions done under different circumstances? Sure, it's a bit easier for players to learn and remember. But there's a much more crucial factor: The probability curve. I don't want ability checks to have a "sweet spot", I want +1 Intellect to always mean success an additional 17% of the time. Meanwhile, the value of a tactical action that gives +2 to attack/defense is HIGHLY dependent on the existing value of those variables- the payoff can literally be twice as high if the odds were fairly even to begin with. That's something that a d20 roll would utterly fail to accomplish (despite having the exact same average result).

Dice are a means to an end: the generation of random variables that are used to make scenarios develop in fresh and unpredictable ways. Too many people fetishize them as a symbol of the medium.

Anonymous said...

I don't think I expressed myself very well in regards to round duration. I meant that you would do as much in 10-12 seconds as you do in 1-2 seconds now. For me at least (and I can't speak for your experiences or the third game) combat in Mass Effect 2 was pretty slow paced. There really wasn't a lot of second to second decisions to make, outside of really intense battles like the final Horizon battle or Escaping the Collector ship. In most battles I spent at least as much time planning as I did actually fighting. So having a major decision be every 10-12 seconds wouldn't be out of line, in my experiences at least.

I also didn't describe what I meant by reinforcements very well. I didn't mean huge waves of guys (or gals), I meant scenarios where you had to get in and out of a place in two or three minutes to avoid enemy reinforcements. This doesn't seem possible currently because that would be 120 or 240 rounds.

I flat disagree with you about dice systems. Having a +1 be completely different depending on whether or not your target is concealed adds nothing to the game besides a longer learning curve. I'm not trying to be rude I honestly can't see the benefit to having each subsystem be completely different.

Finally, like I said above you generally do good stuff, so I'm pretty sure this is going to come out the other side a good game.

Unknown said...

First of all: Subscribing to this blog. Second of all: You live in Portland, you say? Well, hello there from Beaverton :P