Author's Diary for February 12, 2020

We’re getting into the tactics that characters can use during fights. More below the fold.

Sean here. I finished writing the game control mechanics for players yesterday and started on mechanics for less direct control: the tactics that characters can use in story.

Today’s writing wasn’t anything exciting – just cover and stances, things that most roleplaying games have in one form or another. Instead, I want to talk about the play style I want in Covenant.

I wanted to make a roleplaying game where it’s possible to resolve scenes nonviolently, through fair means or foul. One way to encourage that is to keep your combat mechanics fairly shallow. If they are, then the players will hopefully seek out other ways to solve their problems, if only to avoid another boring, slogging fight.

On the other hand, I realize that sometimes the players won’t have any choice but to fight. When they do fight, I want them to be the underdogs whenever possible. In order to win or even survive, they’ll need to take advantage of the terrain and use every possible edge. That’s only possible with fairly deep combat rules.

I am therefore caught between two competing goals and unsure how I’m going to navigate the path between them. My thought is to make the non-fighting and social rules as rich as possible while leaning hard on the advantages and disadvantages system for fights. I deliberately designed the advantages and disadvantages mechanics to require a lot of interpretation by the players and Force Majeure (FM). Hopefully, this will make the game more flexible and responsive to battlefield conditions without adding more combat rules and mechanics.


Here’s what I wrote today.

COVER

  • A character can effectively change xir size by taking cover.
  • Cover reduces a character’s apparent size to opponents.
  • The FM may rule that cover protects a character from one direction, but not another.
  • A shield protects its wielder by providing cover.
Percent of CoverSize Adjustment
50%-1 size
75%-2 size
More than 75%, but less than full cover)-3 size
Size Adjustments from Cover

STANCES

  • A character can adopt several stances to avoid attacks.
  • A stance may provide a character with advantages to some bids, but also impose disadvantages to other bids.
  • A character can take 1 of 3 stances:
    • Standing Stance:
      • Add 0 advantages to:
        • Ranged attack bids
        • Defense bids vs. ranged attacks
        • Defense bids vs. area attacks
        • Stealth bids
      • Add 0 disadvantages to:
        • Defense bids vs. close attacks
        • Movement bids
    • Kneeling Stance:
      • Add 1 advantage to:
        • Ranged attack bids
        • Defense bids vs. ranged attacks
        • Defense bids vs. area attacks
        • Stealth bids
      • Add 1 disadvantage to:
        • Defense bids vs. close attacks
        • Movement bids
    • Prone Stance:
      • Add 2 advantages to:
        • Ranged attack bids
        • Defense bids vs. ranged attacks
        • Defense bids vs. area attacks
        • Stealth bids
      • Add 2 disadvantages to:
        • Defense bids vs. close attacks
        • Movement bids
  • A character can change xir stance at any time and without spending Discipline.
  • If a character changes xir stance, it ends xir turn.

That’s it for now. Come back tomorrow for more.

Published by radiofreecovenant

A podcast about the science-fiction roleplaying game "Covenant" and the urban fantasy novel "Crossing the Line", soon to be published by Black Opal Books.

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