Combat Style Goals

Hello folks. Things have certainly been busy this past month what with settling into the new house and job. It’s going to take a bit for my big projects to pick up steam again. In the meanwhile, I’ve got some smaller snippets, mechanics, and tweak to share.

For starters, I’ve been thinking about the different ways adventuring classes act in combat. After mulling it over a bit, I believe I’d like to have an adventure’s “combat style” include the following:

  • Baseline: The style should have an simple entry level “buy in” that guarantees a certain base level of contribution. The character should essential be able to say “I want in on this kind of conflict” with a single purchase and be able to participate in a meaningful way.
  • Energetic: There should always be something interesting happening, either at the character’s prompting or in reaction to events around them.
  • Cumulative: The character should have at least a few potent actions that are used sparingly, preferably after a build up of opening moves. Overuse tend to make actions less impressive, so ensuring certain actions are rarer can help give them extra oomph. It also fits common dramatic tropes to pull out the big guns further into the battle.
  • Synergistic: The characters action should play well with those of allies and ideally build off of and support each other.

In a set up like D&D, I imagine these points being covered as follows.

  • Proficiencies are pretty good at covering baseline abilities. You really just need to build scaling into either the proficiency or the tools used.
  • Energetic effects are harder to cover as there are lots of ways to approach this and plenty of pitfalls. I’d probably make a distinct set of combat styles or stances to cover this.
  • Cumulative effects will take a little tweaking. The idea of “big gun” abilities is already in place with daily and encounter powers. However, those are generally better used early in a fight, leaving the tail end of the fight far less impressive. Reversing that flow has some definite appeal. Right now I’m thinking of making characters build up “focus” through various triggers to let them unleash “wham” or “surge” abilities as the fight progresses.
  • Synergy is easy enough to build into certain abilities. It may be a good idea to revisit the idea of “roles” but treat them as tactically oriented templates or kits. That way players can decide “I want this archetype (class) to play like this (role)”. As other have pointed out, the very act of designing roles helps open up routes and abilities you might not have otherwise considered. That being said, I feel no incentive to stick with a fixed number of roles, and will probably have them act more as mechanically supported playstyles than character classifications.

That’s the basics of what I’m been playing around with. Next time I’ll take a look how these ideas might be applied to individual classes.

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Published in: on April 16, 2012 at 9:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
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