Seeking the Form

June 22, 2017

So, we’ve already explored why magic in D&D, traditionally, is basically madness given form. The big reason for this is there’s no design format or structure for where spells go, what they do, and how powerful they are for each spell slot. In order to fix this, make my job easier as a designer, and empower players to make their own spells I’m giving each school Spell Forms rather than just spells directly, then building spells out of those rules. It’s like a video game designer first creating level creating tools or something similar then using those to build the elements of the game.

We’re going to start with the Universal school, things all Arcanists have access to intuitively. These are raw forms, things that are born out of feeling rather than direction, and are unrefined. When an Arcanist moves into their specialty, they start learning more structured forms that are informed by their schooling; Warlocks learn to shape their spells using the Forms granted by their patrons, Wizards learn to refine these basic forms into highly technical and specific forms, and even more esoteric spell casters learn even stranger systems.

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Back to School

June 7, 2017

So, the hard part. The real hard part. Schools.

Why are schools important? Well, look at literally all of D&D’s history – schools of magic have influenced what any magician can do as well as what they do well or poorly. This goes even to those that echew schools, like Mages, Warlocks, and Sorcerers. So schools must be addressed in any rewrite.

The problem is schools are so slapdash as a design element that they are nearly impossible to do without just adopting the bad system that already exists.

So I’m gonna have to change them a lot.

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Systems in Systems

June 6, 2017

Tyr’s Hand, everyone, D&D’s magic is obnoxiously complex. There’s, like, nine systems in here and none of them are talking to each other.

We’re gonna have to break this down; first system is the spells themselves and how they’re designed, the second system is how they’re allocated between levels based on their power, the third is how they scale, and the fourth is how they interact with other systems (like damage resistance, AC, HP, saves, etc).

Today we’re gonna start at the bottom – what a spell level is and what it’s worth.

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While this is primarily aimed at Dungeons and Dragons, especially my focuses on my rewrite, a lot of what I’m going to say here applies to other games as well. Well, board and card games. Balance is a much more complex issue when you get into anything with visuals and dexterity-based mechanics. The principles are basically the same in video games and dexterity games (like those weird games that came out in the 90s that involve catching butterfly toys or tapping out fake ice cubes from a plastic frame) but there are far more variables and more assumptions that have to be made during design.

So, anyway, what is balance? And why does it matter?

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He’s a Magic Man

May 15, 2017

Oof, magic. The biggest elephant in any Dungeons and Dragons shaped 10×10 room with an orc in it.

The problems with D&D’s traditional magic system are both numerous and arcane (hah!) and there’s no silver bullet to them. The answer, I think, is both complicated and difficult but it starts very simply – we need to make each style of magic mechanically different. The two biggest ones, the ones I’m going to talk about here, are Divine and Arcane magic – the focus of the Accolyte and Arcanist classes and all the classes that spawn from them – clerics, wizards, warlocks, paladins, etc.

The first change, I think, goes into how the spells manifest. Arcane spells in this system are going to be mutable, modifiable, and customizable – a reflection of the experimentation and examination that goes into making Arcane magic work. Divine magic, though, is more rooted in the powers they come from. There is no changing the prayers that summon them, and there is no adjusting the expression of that power.

So, details wise, what does this mean?

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No, not Super Smash Brothers, but those are good games. Yes, even Brawl. Melee is only a better game because it’s literally broken. Some of us, also, don’t have weird monster fingers that can move at half the speed of light over face buttons.

This is going to be about a game idea I’ve been kicking around for a while; a cheap, easy miniatures game that is oriented around relatively fast games (think 30 to 60 minutes) between two people who are piloting a small group of fighters who get into a fight in a confined space. This could be an alleyway in Prague, the main thoroughfair of Shanghai, a valley in Arizona, or the deck of a ship anchored in London. Each team is composed of 4 to 6 fighters who primarily use melee weapons and tactics, with the occasional slow or limited ranged weapon (bows, black-powder era guns, or a possible sawed off shotgun with limited ammo).

Each team will have points printed with them so that they can be mixed and matched but the initial experience design will be on the teams printed as they are.

So, what kind of teams am I thinking?

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The Form is Formless

April 14, 2017

Brawlers, unlike the Rogues and Fighters, do not rely on Tricks or Strategems going into combat. Instead, they have practiced combat from every angle, in so many situations, that they rely intently on their natural responses. They do not think, they have trained their body beyond thinking. They do not plan, they have honed their minds into the moment where plans are not needed. They do not hesitate, they have trained themselves to trust their body’s actions and follow through. They use Forms to plan their actions in the grandest sense, placing their bodies in positions to take advantage of their extensive experience.

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