Archive for May, 2011
After thinking on it for a while, I decided that HTML would be the best format to typeset my RPG in. It gives me the level of control I want and I can print to PDF to make an actual ‘book.’ I can also, of course, use the HTML itself as a webpage.
I’ve come up with an unusual problem, though. Both Chrome and Firefox, my browsers of choice, have problems with the actual printing.
In Chrome, there’s no way to print background colors. This is bad, because the background colors are important for keeping my tables legible.
In FireFox, for some odd reason, embedded fonts which work perfectly on the screen do not work in print mode.
Additionally, I found that sometimes a block of text I didn’t want split up would get strung across a page break. There’s actually a CSS property to fix that: “page-break-inside: avoid”.
To top it all off, Opera has a shortcut for previewing in print mode, which is a godsend when you’re trying to optimize CSS for printing as well. Ctrl-shift-p.
So Opera doesn’t suffer the font problem, allows printing background colors, has this unique and highly useful CSS rule, and makes print previewing easy. So… I guess Opera is the browser of choice for typesetting in HTML.
To play Level-Up Chess, in addition to a standard chess set you’ll need some way of clearly marking a piece that’s been leveled up, such as by placing a checker underneath them.
Level-Up Chess begins like any other version of chess, but when a piece performs a capture it levels up to a more powerful piece, as follows. When a piece levels up, it gains new options for movement, but also retains all movement options of its old form.
- Pawn -> Squire: May move as a knight, but only forwards. Squires may be promoted upon reaching the last rank, like a normal pawn.
- Bishop -> Archbishop: May move one space orthogonally.
- Knight -> Crusader: If the Crusader captures a pawn or squire, it may immediately move again. This second move may not result in a capture.
- Rook -> Raider: After the rook captures any piece, it may move one space orthogonally.
- Queen -> Empress: May move as a knight.
- King -> Emperor: May make two moves in a row. Can not move into a square which would place it in check, even if it could then move out of check.
Note that in the case of the Knight and the Rook, they may not perform a second move on the same turn that they’re promoted as they weren’t yet a Crusader or Raider when they made the capture.
Damage in the system is intended to be rather swingy, and to that end I use a multiplicative system. At the current time, I only expect to have 8 damage expressions in the game; 2d6, 2d8, 2d10, 2d12, 3d6, 3d8, 3d10, 3d12. You just roll the listed dice and multiply them all together. If you have bonus damage dice, you roll extra dice but only keep the highest two or three, depending on which damage expression you’re using.
Using this multiplicative process, damage is weighted heavily towards the ‘low’ end and it’s always possible to roll a 1; however, it’s also very possible to roll significantly higher.
Damage is also a bit more granular than the limited number of dice expressions would have you believe. Every character has a damage multiplier which, as the name implies, multiplies the damage. At level 1, only rangers have a damage multiplier greater than 1 (they start at 1.1).
Finally, if someone manages to roll a crit result, they’ll get to throw in their crit multiplier as well. The base crit multiplier is 1.5.
For a few different reasons, I decided I needed a good variety of stats that were important for people. This is the current list:
- Block: Present on melee and ranged defense tables, but only if character has a shield. Generally results in partial damage.
- Dodge: Present on melee and ranged defense tables. Generally results in no damage taken.
- Parry: Present on melee defense table. Generally results in the defender getting some bonus against the attacker.
- Hit: Present on all tables; in essence, hit is how much your last defense has to be beaten in order for the attacker to score a crit.
- Partial Resist: Present on magic defense table. Generally results in a less severe effect.
- Resist: Present on magic defense table. Generally results in no effect.
- Reflect: Present on magic defense table. Generally results in the attacker suffering some ill effect.
- Mobility: A bonus to defense some characters have against melee counterattacks. Always a multiple of 10, to keep math simple.
You can read about most of the defenses in this earlier post.
- Toughness: Incoming damage is divided by the defender’s toughness to determine VP loss.
- Vitality: The maximum amount of VP a character has.
See the last post for info on these.
- Attack Bonus: Your attack roll is d% + attack bonus, plus or minus any situational modifiers (e.g. mobility).
- Bonus Dice: Bonus dice are extra dice rolled for damage. Read about damage above.
- Damage Multiplier: Multiplies damage done.
- Crit Multiplier: Multiplies damage done on a crit.
- Piercing: Reduces defender’s
- Precision: If you score a hit result on your attack roll, you add your precision (always a multiple of 10) and might improve your hit into a crit.
When creating their character, every player is going to get to pick a buff. This is a permanent bonus which is added to all characters in the group; thus everyone gets a little boost from everyone else. Buffs do not stack, however, so it was important that there be a good variety of choices.
At character creation, every player chooses a buff which will increase the stats of every character in the group. Buffs are permanent bonuses to the stat (as long as the character remains in the party), and are recorded on the character sheet just like any other bonus. Buff bonuses do not stack, so players should work together to ensure they pick a variety of different buffs.
There are ten stats which are eligible to be buffed (Block, Dodge, Parry, Partial Resist, Resist, Reflect, Toughness, Attack Bonus, Piercing, Crit Multiplier). For each stat, there are two classes which can buff that stat, and each of the five classes is eligible to buff four different stats.
Thus, there will be a good selection available, and even if you had four people playing the same class they’d all be able to pick different buffs.
One thing that sets AARPG apart from other RPGs is that I expect every player to have a calculator. Nothing fancy, just something to allow you to quickly and easily add, subtract, multiply and divide. You can probably get a solar powered calculator from the dollar store.
It seems a bit odd, granted, and I expect that there will be some who either feel it’s too onerous a requirement (to which I reply, how is being expected to have a calculator any different than being expected to have a set of dice?) or perhaps even unnecessary. To that last group, my reply would be, sure, you can add, subtract, divide and multiply 2-digit numbers in your head… But why bother? I could spend 5-10 seconds calculating 97/14 in my head, or I could just punch it into a calculator.
This brings me to the damage system I’m going to be using, consisting of vitality and toughness. A base, level 1 character will have a toughness of 10 and 10 vitality points, before other modifiers.
You can think of vitality points as your hit points, except one point of damage doesn’t equate to one point of vitality. Rather, you divide damage taken by your toughness, and that’s how many VP you lose (rounded down). As an example, if a character with 10 toughness takes 46 damage, that’s 4 VP lost.
Armor improves toughness, and characters may have a piercing rating which reduces their opponent’s toughness. For example, if a rogue with piercing 2 attacks an enemy with toughness 13, the enemy’s effective toughness would be reduced to 11 against the attack.
Magic frequently interacts with VP directly, completely bypassing toughness. Healing restores VP, and offensive magic takes away VP. Thus, magic is comparatively more effective against well-armored enemies, while physical attacks are better against ‘squishies.’
One of my design goals in AARPG is to abstract out movement in combat. I’ve flirted with using a system of abstract distance and groupings similar to what Warhammer FRP 3e uses, but even that is more… tactical than I want. I want to completely get rid of the notion of distance.
This leads to a problem of how to make ranged combat distinct from melee combat. It’s not a big problem in the case of magic, where enemies who are vulnerable to magic will likely not be as vulnerable to physical damage and vice versa, but in the case of ranged combat the differences in defense are going to be relatively minor.
My current thought is some kind of system of counterattacking. Whenever you make a melee attack, your opponent gets to make a melee attack back at you. This leads to some interesting consequences.
First, it means melee is very effective against casters and ranged attackers, since they will tend to have a weak melee attack if they have one at all.
Second, it implies that people who fight in melee must have formidable melee defenses. In the case of fighter-types, this would be heavier armor which mitigates damage. In the case of rogue-types, they would have some kind of mobility bonus, reducing their opponent’s chance to hit with a counterattack.
The third consideration is a matter of time and complexity; if every melee attack provokes a counterattack, that’s going to slow things down a bit.