View Full Version : A simulationist RPG (a few musings and basic ideas for an RPG)

2012-06-08, 11:07 PM
It's half past 5 in the morning and my brain decided, instead of sleeping tonight would be a good time to devise an entirely new roleplaying game.

So in hopes to get it to shut up and sit down, so I can sleep I decided to vent what is going around in my head onto this here forum of yours. Mind you, I'm not going to post solid rules, but the basic ideas that coudl one day become such.

I found that the games i've played, which mostly consisted of recent DnD editions (3+) and other D20 systems all feature a rather simplistic approach to combat, which at its core effectively consists of move, attack, special attack/combat maneuver and cast spell/power. Of course there are also skills which can somehow be woven into a combat situation, but those mostly consist of special modes of movement to clear an obstacle, or things that are even further removed from the actual fighting.

Also I've seen a lot of players complaining that in their game casters outshine combat classes not only in terms of power level but also gameplay variation: while the wizard gets to pick his next action from a list of fundamentally different spectacular spells, all the fighter usually does is charge and power attack, and the rogue flanks and sneak attacks.

So what I was thinking of is a system, less focused on a set of rigid combat mechanics and more on a simulationist approach. A game that gives characters more options, like in a real world fighting situation, such as using their environment to their advantage in one way or another (jumping from higher ground to put the force of your weight into a devastating blow, flipping a table at enemies to create a momentary distraction and other such things), or more ways to interact with enemies (attacking a specific body part to cripple the enemy, rather than just kill them or latching on to a large monster and climbing up its back to be able to reach more vulnerable body parts or simply to be able to continue attacking them while they try to fly away).
This system could include bonuses and penalties for size and more importantly weight of a character, such as a heavier character gets more damage out of a drop-attack, while a lighter character is more nimble and would execute the same attack with more accuracy instead.

My idea is a system where martial characters can actually use physical superiority to more effect than just swinging their sword better and harder, they would be encouraged to move around each other and get the upper hand through a combination of weapon proficiency, athletic prowess and clever moves. You have a specific, unusual move in mind? If a real person can do it, your character can probably do it too, or at least try to.

Connecting attacks would always hit certain bodyparts, be it by intentionally targetting that part or just the random result of a general attack and affect a character in different ways such as wounding or entirely crippling a limb, making for the possibility of player characters actually being able to kneecap a fleeing opponent to take them prisoner rather than having to beat them senseless with saps and the flat side of their blades so they would go unconscious without the danger of them bleeding to death in the next six seconds.

Sure a lot of these things can be done with a few simple tweaks by the GM in a game like DnD or Pathfinder, but it would normally end up being either uselsess, because in order to take any of the possible actions opened up by these houserules a character would have to forgo the type of action it was built for and that would therefor probably be a lot more effective. This is why I think this needs a new system of its own where the character options suit the rule environment.

The one glaring problem I see behind all this is to make a system that does not require and endless sequence of die rolls on every turn, but once that is sorted out to an acceptable degree, we would end up with a game that would fully support a more varied and more cinematic and dynamic combat experience that would make a player feel less restricted.

It's out of my system now :smallsmile: Thoughts and suggestions are welcome. If not, at least I can sleep now... hopefully.... probably not. :smallsigh:

2012-06-09, 11:15 AM
(As a simulationist/gamist player who likes fast combat)

I think a lot of the changes you are interested in can be solved by loosening up the group's interpretation of the game rules, rather than adding a bunch of charts and extra rolls.

Environment use:
GM determined ad-hoc modifiers from +1 to +4 for the infinite variety of 'environmental use' actions to encourage PCs to think like that. Some balancing penalties might be called for, but again, ad hoc.

- A Fighter in full plate wants to jump from the table while bringing his greatsword down on the ogre's face? How about a -2 to hit, +4 to damage (stacks with any power attack type feats)? Or maybe +4 to damage, but he is at -2 AC next round while he regains his balance?

Or, for a non-modifier example:

- Your rogue wants to throw his ale into the eyes of the bounty hunter and then shank him? Great - if can succeed at a bluff check, it means that he surprised the bounty-hunter with the ale-to-the-face maneuver, and now automatically wins initiative for the combat round and catches his enemy flat-footed for a sneak attack.

Hit Locations:
I'd just have a generic sense of to-hit penalties for called shots, and some useful but not overpowered effects from successful ones.

Maybe leg shots are at -4 to hit, but reduce the opponent's speed in addition to causing damage. Or a headshot might be -6, but force the defender to make a Fort save or be stunned. I would feel free to waive the penalties for situations where the defender can't effectively defend (but aren't those auto-hits in 3.x?).

I'd advise against having a new mechanic that is added to every attack to determine hit location - if the player wasn't trying for a special effect, just narrate it however you want and have it do typical HP damage. New rolls add up, and often don't add much . . .

Game balance can become an issue with these, but keeping them ad-hoc can help a lot with that. If something is so overpowered that the PCs are spamming it (like making improved trip attacks every round), just give it a smaller bonus next time. If the players really want to be awesome at one of the new things, make it a feat ('Crippling strike,' or whatever).

Of course, all of this does place quite a bit of extra responsibility on the GM to be able to assign modifiers on the fly . . . I haven't found this to be a problem, but your mileage may vary.

2012-06-09, 12:10 PM
Try other systems; it is easier than making your own. Riddle of Steel in particular is supposed to be a gritty medieval combat simulator with a variety of maneuvers and such.