Friday, June 17, 2011

Skill20: Initiative

A post by Greywulf got me thinking about the old-school method of determining initiative every round and how I could integrate that into Skill20.

It meant that instead of Initiative being a resource, like focus and hit points, it would just be determined every round. I had to balance how that would impact spell casters, as before initiative was pretty predictable once the fight got under way. With initiative changing every round, casting spells, especially higher level ones, became dicier. I decided this is a good thing.

I debated old-fashioned weapon speeds for about 30 seconds, then dismissed the idea. Faster weapons almost always had less reach, and I decided the two balanced each other out enough for my purposes.

Different versions of D&D have used different dice for determining initiative. In my opinion, the d20 provided too much of a swing, while a d6 would seriously hamper spell casters and make any initiative bonus a major one. I split the difference and went with a d12. I'm still debating whether to add the Alertness bonus to initiative in addition to Dexterity or in place of it. (In Skill20 Alertness is an ability score, not a feat).

After the jump is my updated combat round breakdown and sections on declarations and initiative.

Combat Round (6 seconds)
1) Declarations
2) Roll Initiative
3) Start-of-round effects applied
4) Turns by Initiative order
5) End-of-round effects applied

The players declare their actions and the GM decides on the opponents’ actions before initiative is rolled.
If an intended target is dropped, an attacker may attempt a DC 15 Skill/ALE check to switch targets. If successful, the attacker is at a -2 penalty vs. the new target, if not the action is wasted (but no focus is spent). The Skill is the one being used in the intended attack (Magic, Melee or Ranged). If a character has 10 or more ranks in the skill, a check is not required, but the penalty still applies.


At the beginning of a round each side rolls 1d12, and then each character and monsters adds their Initiative Bonus and any penalties. This is their initiative score for the round.
Any initiative below zero counts as zero. A combatant with a zero initiative may only fight defensive, gain initiative, or second wind.

Labels: , , ,

Read the rest!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Skill20: Margin of Success

Skill20 design is a constant battle between simplification and detail. Sometimes my brain will pop out some arcane design idea, only for me to chew it over a day or so and dismissing it as needlessly complicated.

A recent idea I had was to eliminate damage bonuses. As it stands, characters get a damage bonus with weapons equal half their skill rank, plus the appropriate stat bonus. Whether you hit dead even or by 10, the damage is the same. Then it occurred to me that in some other systems I use, the more you hit by, the more damage you do and I pondered how to incorporate that into Skill20.

Effectively a bonus to hit would be a bonus to damage. Likewise, even if a defensive action didn't keep you from getting hit, it would reduce the damage. Separate critical rules wouldn't be needed, as the damage of such an accurate hit would be reflected in the margin damage.

This would mean that fights against evenly matched opponents could take longer, as the margin on both sides would likely be small, while fights against goons (cannon fodder opponents) would probably be skewed more in favor of the PCs. The danger would be big-bads, like dragons and giants, I'll have to monitor their damage output carefully in playtest.

I'll also have to tweak some damage dealing spells. Instead of scaling dice of damage, I'm thinking a flat die amount for the spell plus margin. So instead of a fireball doing 1d6 per rank, up to 10d6, it would do 5d6 plus margin. Each +3.5 of margin is equivalent to a d6. Some more crunch to chew on during playtesting. It might slightly nerf magic damage output, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but a wizard-type could still clear a room of 15 hp goblins.

Labels: , ,

Read the rest!

Saturday, June 04, 2011

X-Men First Class review

My capsule review of X-Men First Class - it is Marvel's apology to us for Last Stand and Wolverine.

Apology accepted.

It also proves that the 20th Century Fox side of Marvel movies can turn out just as good of one as Paramount. I would put this up there with Iron Man, Thor and Spider-Man 2 (IMO the best of the three Spider-man movies).

more after the jump...

To get the most out of the movie, you do have to make a couple of concessions. One is that it isn't going to follow Marvel canon too closely. Forget everything you know about Moira McTaggart, or that Havok is supposed to be Cyclop's brother, or how certain character's powers work in the comics (which the comic book writers are just as guilty of taking liberties) . The other is to not get too hung up on the previous X movies... just forget about the Emma Frost in Wolverine. Or that Moira in XM3 looks 40 tops despite 40 years passing.

The movie itself is part 60's James Bond ( a common opinion from what I've seen), part Batman Begins, with the X-Mythos as source material.

Not everything is different. Magneto's first scenes are almost exactly out of the first X-Men movie. There is an awesome cameo that ties in to the previous movies. Xavier's estate looks like what we've come to know as Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters.

There is also heaps of back-story... after all this is an origin story. And in many cases the liberties taken make sense.

The cast overall is spot on. James McAvoy gives Charles a believable (and true to canon) idealism without getting preachy or overly naive. Michael Fassbender makes Magneto's journey to "the dark side" much more believable than a certain Vader who will not be named. The biggest surprise for me was Jennifer Lawrence's Mystique. She made Raven a sympathetic character, as opposed to just "that hot chick in blue body paint".

The bad guys are given less depth, but to be fair there is only so much movie to work with here. Kevin Bacon's Sebastian Shaw channeled classic Bond villainy, including a secret sub, global war ambitions, and a white... oh, wait, that was Emma. Shaw's lackeys aren't really given any back story (though one is Nightcrawler's dad in the comics, and could be in the movie timeline).

There are a lot of little touches that will appeal to the comic geeks, such as the Blackbird, or the origin of the black and gold uniforms ("Do we have to wear these?" "Since none of our mutations cope with high-G stress or being riddled with bullets, I would say so").

Part of me hopes they make another, but really I think they could leave well enough alone. Because we know where Charles and Eric are going after this movie.

4.5 of 5 mutant-gened flying monkeys.

Labels: ,

Read the rest!