I played a quick solo game this evening using my second incarnation of the Skirmyth rules. A system with more visible stats, but still with no real need to look anything up. Characters are activated when a counter with their name on it is pulled from a cup, the counter has written on it not only the characters name but their speed and attack stats. The number of counters a character has in the cup is equal to their initiative value. Speed determines the distance a character can move in inches when their counter is drawn and attack determines the number of dice a character will roll when making attacks. They do damage equal to the number of successes they score on the dice rolled (Warriors 4+, Rangers 5+ and Mages 6+). Apart from character counters there are also joker counters in the cup. Jokers stay out of the cup until the 'end' counter is drawn but return all other counters to the cup. When the end counter is finally drawn the number of jokers determines which column on a table is rolled on to determine a random event. For example in my game, two jokers were drawn and so when the end counter was drawn I rolled a die and consulted the event table, for two jokers and a roll of a 6 there was a small earth tremor which caused both sides to take morale checks. Morale is currently an extremely simple system. When a character is killed or you are forced to take a morale check by other means pick up a die per character still alive on your side and roll them. You pass the morale check if you roll a single 4+, if you fail to roll any 4+s you fail the check and lose the game. I thought it might be too simple initially but it creates a really interesting dynamic - you don't want a small number of hugely powerful characters because you'll get less dice when making morale checks, on the other hand you don't want a huge number of weak characters because that will normally mean you have to make more morale checks. I also thought it might create unrealistic scenarios where heroes flee from much weaker foes, however should a band of heroes lose a character surely their concern is no longer the mission, but protecting and restoring that fallen character to health? So in that sense it portrays greater realism. The real strength of it however is in the fact that morale is controlled by a standard dice roll meaning you never have to look anything up. The number of dice you roll being the number of remaining characters you have!
This evening I played a simple 4 vs 5 line up and charge at each other game.
On the one side we had -
Sir Gildain - I:4, A:4, S:3, R:6, PTS:34, Warrior
Pharen Thark - I:3, A:4, S:5, R:5, PTS:32, Warrior
Terse Kolf - I:2, A:6, S:5, R:5, PTS:27, Ranger
Tannik Druze - I:2, A:8, S:3, R:5, PTS: 27, Mage
And on the other we had -
Prince Lorek - I:2, A:5, S:5, R:10, PTS:30, Warrior
Harken Drane - I:2, A:7, S:3, R:5, PTS: 25, Mage
Kel Krace - I:4, A:2, S:2, R:4, PTS: 20, Warrior
Skorth Dar - I:3, A:3, S:4, R:5, PTS: 26, Warrior
Ajen Low - I:1, A:12, S:7, R: 5, PTS: 24, Ranger
The game was supposed to be 120pts, however while writing this up I realised that Prince Lorek's force was 125 points... but considering Sir Gildain tabled him without losing a man it's not like those extra 5 points really helped.
The game played exceedingly quickly. I remember reading lots of rulebooks where games claim to be 'fast paced' but this one truly is, with a standard skirmish like this taking around 10 minutes to play. You may also notice I was intentionally trying to break the game with characters like Kel Krace and Ajen Low, Kel having a huge number of activations but being pretty weak and Ajen only a single activation but devastating when he does activate.
So what have I learned and what questions have this little playtest brought to light?
Primarily I need to decide what route I want the main focus of the game to take. At present I'm playing it much like your average skirmish game where two evenly matched albeit different forces face off, rather than a dungeon crawling, hack and slash style game with multiple enemies each far weaker than our main characters.
Secondly I need to decide how damage dealt is increased by circumstances - at the moment if your characters remaining resolve is double their targets the amount of damage they do is doubled, and tripled if triple etc. Alternatively if two characters are ganging up on another the damage dealt is doubled. I need to playtest further to see if this is too dramatic an increase and maybe adding rather than multiplying would be more appropriate. Obviously +0 if no damage is dealt, +1 if resolve is higher, +2 if double, +3 if triple, and +1 per additional character in the combat.
Thirdly I need to develop the actual solo AI mechanics.
Fouthly I need to develop scenarios to make the game more interesting/ narrative.
Thanks for stopping by!