Game design - classes and warfare

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Re: Game design - classes and warfare

Postby Galloglaich » Mon Jul 29, 2013 2:49 am

No set of rules can replace or even compete with good role-playing - if you have a good enough DM and a good enough group, you almost don't need any rules.

But a good set of rules (by 'good' I mean something that flows well, doesn't get in the way of a good story but instead enhances it, makes sense within the context of the world you are playing in - i.e. it has a pretty good internal consistency, and isn't too complicated) can help make gaming a lot of fun too, especially when you don't have one of those near perfect gaming groups (and even, arguably, if you do).

That is what the Codex is all about. The idea was if you mimic the patterns of underlying reality as well as you can, you'll get a set of 'good' rules by the criteria outlined above, a lot easier than you can if you make up something completely out of thin air. "Klingon" the language (or even better, Klingon martial arts like this guy is practicing) is an example of the latter, it's something you can learn, put a lot of effort into, but it's just some dudes (forgive me for saying this) pretty lame idea of martial arts, and it's (to me) a lot less convincing than something based on kung fu, or aikido, or Liechtenauer.

The tricky thing when modeling reality is finding the sweet spot between having enough options and nuances to capture something that at least roughly emulates the real experience (in terms of what the advantages and disadvantages are for a given option, for example) without getting too overcomplicated. My inspiration for the Codex was mainly from tabletop wargames, the pre-computer game type. A good example of what I think of as a very successful (though somewhat flawed) design was the original Squad Leader game. This was a simple but robust simulation of WW II combat at the squad and individual tank level - with up to a few dozen squads and / or tanks on each side in a typical game.

An example of going too far (in my opinion) was the much more complicated "Advanced Squad Leader" which came out a few years later. It was a brilliant design but basically too complex and 'busy' for tabletop play (unless you had a lot of time on your hands, in which case it could be fun). It did prove to be the internal core logic of a lot of very successful computer games like Steel Panthers, Close Combat, and Combat Mission.

The mistake they made in ASL I think was trying to make a universal system which could handle all the various (extremely varied) battlefields of WW II. The original squad leader instead branched off into different rules system for different theaters of war. You can't model everything, but if you can model what the people involved were actually thinking about most in that particular setting, you can get a pretty good gaming session out of it.

What I'm hoping to do with the codex is make some niche settings for different environments, that will enhance the core rules a little bit, in different ways for each setting. So a Viking setting has a different emphasis from a Samurai setting which has a different emphasis from a Pirate setting which has a different emphasis from a Late Medieval setting and so on.

Along those lines, I'm trying to think of what I need to model, and what I don't. Take a meat-axe and then a scalpel to the latter, and hopefully be left with mechanics which are useful, but not cumbersome. Like I think the Combat System is...

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Re: Game design - classes and warfare

Postby Galloglaich » Mon Jul 29, 2013 3:03 am

drkguy3107 wrote:I still don't quite get what you mean by Klingon? Do you mean they are Star Trek fans?

Also I personally don't think you need new rules to cover this stuff, just make that the campaign. I had a campaign in which we were pirates, in charge of a ship, with a galley full of guys and we rammed another galley in a fog bank and boarded the boat, killed the deck crew, locked up the doors, and then rammed it into another boat, lit them both on fire, and then hopped back into our boat and ran away.

Also the gnome got his pants pulled off, and was nearly sucked down a manhole to be bludgeoned to death by 60 angry oarsmen trapped in a burning boat, but he got out of it fine.


So riffing off of what I said above, sometimes you can pull of a game like this just from having a good group, sometimes you can pull it off by having a good setting (a good 'campaign' or 'adventure module' to use the old DnD parlance) but sometimes it can really help a lot if you have some cool mechanics which model some of the dilemmas one actually faces on the sea. Coping with a storm; searching for the enemy or dangerous reefs in the fog; outrunning another ship while avoiding reefs or running aground; various naval combat tactics; coping with the social situation on a ship, mutinies, traitors signalling the enemy and so on. There is all kinds of drama involved in good literature dealing with this genre, some of the mechanics of it may make a good 'game within the game' itself in such a way that enhances the overall story. I know some modern era wargames which did a good job of this, but I haven't ever looked into age of sail type games for inspiration yet.

Another obvious example worth exploring is cavalry warfare which we've toyed with a bit around here.

Oh and speaking of good game design again, I was thinking of some of the old Steve Jackson games, the simple 'pocket' games like Car Wars, Bolo and so on... though I'm not quite as much of a fan of GURPS (have to admit of course, it's been a bit more successful than any of my game designs!). But if you could make a 'game within a game' for cavalry, social combat, stealth, naval combat etc., which was perhaps similar to one of those (or maybe, to about half of one of those) you might have something useful.

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Re: Game design - classes and warfare

Postby drkguy3107 » Mon Jul 29, 2013 6:40 am

I don't like the game within a game idea, I would rather have simpler rules. I find that a simple use of skills and common sense (and knowledge) cover any issue much better than a complicated rule set. Instead of a set of rules, perhaps a set of guidelines and advice would be better.
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Re: Game design - classes and warfare

Postby Galloglaich » Mon Jul 29, 2013 12:04 pm

To each his own amigo, but that is what the Codex is about - not complexity at all, but simple and viable rules for combat. There is no reason that the same can't be done for other parts of the game (and cavalry war or naval war are just another form of combat). If you have a good enough group like I said, you may not need any rules at all... I've played that way before. And there are other game systems which have far simpler rules for combat (OE DnD for one). Another thing I've always strived for with the codex is to make rules modular, layered and optional so that you don't need to use them if you don't want to- you can pick and choose which elements you find fun or useful.

But the codex is designed to enable you to have fun with the patterns that reality takes, which aren't always fully intuitive, but can still be an interesting challenge. That is what the 'game within a game' of combat rules are for. And I think it can be extended to other things besides just hand to hand combat, grappling and missile combat, which is what the system covers so far.

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Re: Game design - classes and warfare

Postby Daeruin » Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:49 pm

Yeah, the Codex system is already a game within a game. Vanilla d20 combat is a simple skill roll, one die, and if you get high enough you hit. Codex changes that by adding the Martial Pool, where you have to strategize how to best use your available dice, and the enemy is doing the same, with opposed dice rolls, and it has a set of feats that also interact with each other and the MP. That right there is a game within the overall RPG.
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Re: Game design - classes and warfare

Postby Galloglaich » Thu Aug 01, 2013 8:56 pm

Yep that is the idea. I hope to introduce a few more. Next is character generation, then magic. Then who knows maybe some of these other things.

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