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"Unique Selling Point" edition

A place for full-on game designers and homebrewers alike, as well as general mechanics discussion for published games. Feel free to share your projects, ideas and problems, comment to other designers' ideas and give advice to those that need it.

Try to keep discussion as civilized as possible, and avoid non-constructive criticism. A new thread is posted every friday (or monday, apparently), as long as there isn’t one still up.

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>Thread Topic:
Do you feel your game offers enough to stand out? What do you do (wrt GAME DESIGN) to ensure that gamers out there will be compelled to take a closer look at your friggin' game?
And I promptly linked to the wrong last thread, lel.
Use this instead:
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I'm just fiddling with a Wargame system for fun, but I've arrived at an impasse.

The imperial system is fucking stupid in general, but I'm used to inches as manageable chunks of movement units.
In a metric Wargame how big should one 'unit' be? 3cm? 5cm?

Or is the inch to entrenched in wargames?

Pic unrelated, just cool.
Like the majority of wargames out there, Aegeos is going to have to sell itself on an eventual miniatures line, since the premise isn't unique enought to catch attention alone. Fantasy games a dime a dozen, and while platoon size isn't as common in that genre, its still a hard sell on rules alone.
The LotRSBG used 2.5 cm as the base unit for its metric rules, since its approximately 1". I'd say 3 cm for each unit would work.
I guess 2.5 is closer, but for simplicity's sake I'd rather stay away from fractions.
I'm going for 3 cm for now, it's good to know there are other Wargames that use metric though.
Don't quote me, but I think a lot of historicals use cm. Its really just ones that are heavily influenced by GW and their market that use inches.
I don't think a wargame can succeed or fail on the merit of unit measure. Inch is probably a substantial advantage on the US market but if the product is strong otherwise, US gamers will surely play with cms.
What is the line between a heavy combat system with focus on grid battles to boardgames like Descent or HeroQuest?
In a LCG, is there really any need for something akin to color as MtG uses it? I can see the use of it, though I'm wondering if simply using "factions" would be conducive to play. Color identity is certain an interesting aspect, though. But would you be better suited to simply follow something along the lines of Netrunner and other LCGs where you have a pool of [Neutral] cards that can be used by any factions with factions them acting as an alternative to colors, often containing playstyles and mechanics exclusive to themselves?
Yes my system will be the premier newcomer, change the paradigm, and raise the bar for all new tabletop RPG systems.
Doubtful, but we'll see. I'm leeching a resource system from a flashgame cardgame I came across and whose dev team vanished to the winds and whom I'm still trying to get in contact with, but I personally find it a great way to have a resource mechanic that's more involved than Heartstone's and its clones of just "get shit every turn lmao" and Magic's issues with land and mana. As far as theme, I don't know of any scifi cardgames, excluding the asymmetric shadowrunning of Netrunner.
Are there any mechanics you associate with a "noblebright" setting?
Things like:

Working on a low-fantasy-magic-is-rare-but-powerful system where the setting itself is pretty grimdark and lethal, but the focus is on the players being shining beacons of hope and promise.
Inspiration is what immediately springs to mind. Some way that players can inspire NPCs even if it isn't in a system of followers and the like, but their presence and deeds pushing normal people to become lesser heroes in their own right.
Yes my system will change the paradigm forever.
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>What do you do ... to ensure that gamers out there will be compelled to take a closer look at your friggin' game?
Covert conflicts that no one has (Soviet-Afghan war, New Zealand wars, Russo-Japanese land wars), do it in a simple-yet-realistic way, have a good looking cover, provide good example game videos.

If I'm not covering a lesser-covered period I try to cover as much ground as possible - so my WW1 air combat ruleset has stats for most aircraft + zeppelins + bombing. Most WW1 air combat games just have a few fighters statted out and a purely dogfighting.
My WW2 air combat game has fighters, bombers, ground attack aircraft, as well as ground targets with AAA defense and naval vessels- it has stats for more than 200 aircraft from 6 nations and splitting the war into 3 periods. Most WW2 air combat games just have fighters and dogfighting, maybe a stuka or two as well, but rarely any ground targets or AAA.
Then my modern air combat game has 40+ years of air combat completely covered (as in *every* major air conflict from 1958 - 2000), stats for over 280 different aircraft, 18 different periods / conflicts and AAA, SAMs, SAM radars, ground forces like tanks, infantry, mobile SAM vehicles, then naval vessels, helicopters, search and rescue, a campaign system, solo rules and a mercenary air campaign system - all in one book (and a free add on book for the solo rules and mercenary air campaign).

Currently working on a skirmish game covering Chechnya (Which I don't think anyone has covered outside of hex n chit games), using uncertain activation, randomly generated forces and absolutely no markers or tokens, but some interesting suppression rules. Once again as-simple-as-possible: only 17 pages.
Here's my first draft for the rules:
>Thread Topic
fuck no, i'm making this more myself first and any other people second, most people will find more options within shit like starfinder, traveller, swrpg, etc
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I feel that if a designer is making a system/mod for their own setting, then this more or less must be the case.

Additionally, I think the assumption is that others will feel as strongly as you do about the world when they get to taste it properly.
I don't know if I quite do yet, but I want to end up with a game that combines loose and fast, almost freeform descriptions, especially during action scenes, with a simple yet deep set of rules to derivate the exact consequences of said freeform actions as well as a very dynamic, reactive take on initiative that rewards interrupts and going on the defensive at the right time.

While combat and action scenes will be the focus, I also want to make a very simple framework for calmer scenes to build up tension that can unravel in those bombastic action scenes.

Think Shonen Anime and Spectacle fighters for fluff, still working on the details.
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>Thread Topic
Well, I have a number of mechanics, that I believe are innovative as such, myself. At least I hope this is the case.

To that end, I have just published two blogposts and I'd like to hear your opinions about it. It's basically the first glance at the rules of Knights of the Black Lily.
The first blogpost explains the basic approach to Fortune Points, which I would cautiously optimistic label as metacurrency 2.0:

The change might seem innocent at first glance but it has many implications in actual play. The second blogpost highlights one of those implications - it demonstrates how to solve the Call of Cthulhu problem (actually the Trail of Cthulhu problem):

Quintessentially, what this metacurrency 2.0 does is introduce proper RISK MANAGEMENT into RPGs. Let me know what you think, guys.
I like the attitude. Hope it's well-founded.

There's Space Hulk cardgame but then again that's science-fantasy.

The superhero genre is the quintessential noblebright, no?

>"noblebright" setting
>where the setting itself is pretty grimdark and lethal
Wait a minute, that sounds more like nobledark. In fact, it sounds an awful lot like that.

>a very dynamic, reactive take on initiative that rewards interrupts and going on the defensive at the right time.
My next blogpost in the Series on Crunch will demonstrate how KotBL achieves plausible yet simple interruptability - feel free to have a look when it's out, Anon.
Warstack is a working title, though the name implies its selling point; the game uses an "interrupt stack" mechanic that is more at home in collectible card games than miniature mechanics, thus allowing multiple layers of counter-play. Although it's an alternating activation wargame, its main selling point is the actual turn manipulation structure.

See, unlike most other AA games, there is no actual randomization for "turn order." Rather than rolling to see "can I react", or "can I make a consecutive action," both players have a regenerating pool of Strategy Points. Although making a "single activation" or a "single interrupt" is free, chain activations, counter-interrupts, and other abilities that manipulate turn order, cost Strategy Points; the key however is these SP do NOT give extra actions.

So unlike a game like, say, Epic or Bolt Action where activations are based on a lucky roll or die-bag draw, chain activations creep upwards. Activating two units in a row is 1 SP. Three in a row is 3 SP. Four in a row is 6 SP, etc. Interrupting interrupts has a creeping cost.

Each unit gets 2 actions/turn, period. You can do one or both when you activate, but only 1 if you interrupt. Activating/interrupting with a unit that has already taken an action costs a SP, in addition to other costs.

Thus, the game has a slight efficiency bonus to active versus reactive play, but when combined with the fact that SP are also needed to bring units in from reserves, and you have a "three-state" resource dilemma where a player can:
-Bring in units from reserves/null-play.
-Do an all-out-attack.
-React effectively to an opponent.
But doing one innately makes doing the other two more difficult.
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Anyway, this image is how I explain my game
Player 1 is dwarfs, player 2 is humans. It's the Dwarf player's turn.
The Dwarf on the left attacks the human on the top. So you put a "target" marker (the black die in this case) next to the human, and a 1 next to the dwarf.
Player 2 doesn't want to just stand and take it, so decides to Interrupt with the human on the right. Player 2 places a "2" next to that human.
Player 1 isn't going to have any of that, and so decides to have the Dwarf on the bottom interrupt. Player 1 would have to spend a Strategy Point (due to the Dwarf on the left already being active on the stack), and would put a 3 next to the Dwarf on the bottom.
Then player 2 would do the same thing, spending a strategy point and placing a 4 next to the dwarf on the top.

Neither player decides to keep interrupting (since adding an extra set of interrupts would be 2 Strategy Points per player), and so attacks are resolved in reverse order.
-The Dwarf on the top (#4) attacks the human on the bottom (#3). You then remove the 4, and place an "action-taken" token next to the dwarf.
-If #3 survives, 3 would attack 2, remove the 3 die and replace it with an action token.
-Repeat for 2 attacking 1, 1 attacking its initial target. "4-3-2-1."
There are several other aspects to the game of course.
-Unlike other games that allow reactions, there is no actual distinction between actions taken as part of an activation or as a reaction. Thus, you would move/charge/shoot as an interrupt instead of duck/countercharge/overwatch.
-Likewise, the two-action system means you can have "move twice" instead of "march," or other combinations.
-Since it's possible to move as an interrupt, and since interrupts that do NOT declare an offensive target cannot be interrupted (I may modify this rule), it's possible for a unit to be unable to attack its original target after an interrupt is resolved. For example: Infantry squad A shoots at infantry squad B. The opponent interrupts, and drives Tank C in the middle, cutting A's line of sight off to B. Tank C is considered a "Blocker" in this scenario, a unit that through whatever means, prevents a unit from executing its attack against its original target. A would have to resolve its attack against a Blocker, if unable to attack B due to a Blocker.
-However, had B run into cover/out of line of sight, the attack would be wasted.

-That said, there are two other options that a player has, immediately prior to executing an attack.
--Fake Out lets you swap out your unit from the stack for another unit not on the stack. For example, player A also had infantry squad D, which still has LOS to infantry squad B, despite the opposing player having moved tank C in between A and B. The player could spend a SP to have D attack B instead (+1 SP if D had already taken an action). Fix-and-flank.
--Alternately, the player could spend a SP to "stand down." Infantry squad A simply doesn't execute, and retains its action for later.

Anyway, there are other aspects I am still hammering out but I currently am liking the actual "turn structure" since it removes the randomness from the equation and makes it about player skill.
Im playtesting ffa sandbox ruleset with some pve events. My players, even when they are randoms, are already cooperating together. I need something which will incite them to backstabbing and similar pvp interaction. How?
I must ask one question: is interrupting interruptions that interrupt interruptions that interrupt interruptions fun? Is it evocative?

I'm not saying it's not, I would have to experince it in gameplay to be able to say. But it's one concern I would have. I could easily see this EITHER being a lot of fun as both sides try to constantly top each other OR an implausible drag, depending on how it plays out.
Paranoia is an example of backstabbing your friends for gain, but it is very upfront about it. If you want to encourage a sense of competitiveness make sure to have it stated clearly that it is encouraged before showing the mechanics.
Any sort of brownie points for letting allies bleed out or taking extra shares of treasure can work. But it is not very good for even the selfish characters survival as their allies stop being allies. What is a villain without minions?
I imagine it goes down like this:

-In normal "IGOUGO" games, the game devolves into getting the drop on your opponent, getting the first turn, or being able to "null-strike" better than your opponent.
-Alternating phases are slightly better, but depending on the system, it may pillowfist the whole game due to the structure making it easier to "kite" your opponent. For example, if you had a game that was "move-shoot-charge" in terms of phases, the off-player could move to make charges weaker for player 1. Or hide behind walls prior to shooting, etc. I tried a game with randomized alternating phases (Flipit Paper Combat) awhile ago but the randomization made victory-defeat a literal coinflip at times.
-There are a bunch of alternating activation systems out there. Some are "simple" AA (I move one unit, you move one unit), others use a ratio (For example, if you have twice as many units as your opponent, you activate two units instead of one), while others are randomized. IMO, these all fall apart because "Not all activations are equal." Activate a Level 1 Conscript squad? One activation. Activate a Level 20 Doomsquad? One activation. Depending on the game, you can either waste time by buying a bunch of "filler" activations, or skew your activation ratio to activate your Deathstars more reliably.
--So I like what Stargrunt II and Batman do. You can "skip" if you have less unactivated units than your foe.
-I want to avoid interrupts being "too good." This is why I make it so only "attacks"/offensive actions can be interrupted, and interrupts eat into the "2 action" limit that all units have.

From my initial testing, I think it has a lot of potential to be fun, since the structure allows for organic counterplay, while emphasizing units acting in support of one another.
Should there be an upper ceiling of how many interruptions can be stacked?
How do you regard Overwatch rules, like Oldhammer had at one point?
There is no hard limit to interrupt-stacking. There is a soft limit where you pay a cost in SP for each previous unit you have acting on the stack.

So if you have A-B-A, where B interrupts A attacking, but is counter-interrupted by A, A pays 1 SP.
If you have A-B-A-B, A and B each pay 1 SP.
If you have A-B-A-B-A, B pays 1 SP but A pays 3. (1+2).
If you have A-B-A-B-A-B-A, B pays 3 SP, but A pays 6 SP.

Combined with the fact that you have to pay an additional SP to activate/interrupt with a unit that has already taken an action, and an Interrupt only lets you do *one* action (activations let you do one or two), and although there is no upper limit, it gets expensive fast. That is, of course unless either player takes a non-combat interrupt.

Old 40k Overwatch was amusing. Forfeit moving and shooting in order to shoot during the enemy's turn. It did require some FAQ-ing to combine with casualty allocation (IIRC, a good solution was "arrange your models in their 'eventual formation', then allocate casualties accordingly), but the real issue IMO was it made the game too much of a standoff.
Personally, abstracting from implementation, I prefer Overwatch because it requires planning and forethought but your mileage may vary.

You could, for example, implement Overwatch by having increasing costs in SP for units put on Overwatch. That would force you to limit the number of Overwatching units to a few, de facto.
It's all about trade-offs, especially since you can pre-empt with *any* single action normally available to a unit, and since Overwatch is fiddly to implement in AA games. It's one reason Bolt Action used discrete reactions, which I'm trying to avoid.

I could shoot as an interrupt, move a unit into cover, move another unit to block off an attack vector, or activate a special. The thing is, since I only am taking one action, I cannot activate the unit later (and even then it would be for only one action, due to the 2-action limit) or interrupt with it again unless I spend a SP later in the turn. Likewise, moving a unit for one action, then ending that unit's activation would require spending a SP for its second activation/to interrupt. So at a higher level you still need some forethought and board development. Otherwise, your opponent could attack from multiple angles with supports/ability to Fake Out.

tl;dr, if a unit interrupts, you either need to spend a SP to let it act (whether via activation or interrupt) again, or it's only taking 1 action that turn.
You could just use "units". Some games use this so that you, the player, can choose what scale to us. Just make sure you're consistent.
Otherwise, 20mm is good, or 25mm if you want to use inches in metric.
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What are some games with mechanics like FFVII materia, /gdg/? Specifically, discrete interchangeable skills that interact with each other when equipped in combination, as opposed to railroaded classes. I've been working on something similar to this for my game but I'd like to see what others have come up with (if anything).

Should the attacking unit also have a marker? This might not be confusing in practice but I feel like there should be a specific die for the attacker if there's one for the defender.
The "black" die is the initial target, and the white 1 is the initial attacker. The white 2, 3, 4 are the opponent and the player doing the escalation game of interrupt and counter-interrupt (4 is legal, despite being also the initial target, since it didn't actually declare an action for the stack). Once a player either skips interrupting, or interrupts with a non-combat action (which cannot be interrupted), then you actually start "counting down" and resolving the actions. Currently, there's no secondary interruption once the actions start resolving (so more like Yu-Gi-Oh instead of Magic), but the ability to "Fake Out", "Hotswap" and re-attacking "blockers" is enough to track as is.

Of course, I ideally plan to remove the dice and print some sort of hex marker for this, so players don't get all spergish about "oh, I thought this was a spare die" or so.
What about the idea of numbered paired markers to track who is doing what? Like, a pair of 1's for the initial attack, one next to the attacking unit and one against the target, can easily have it a red and blue '1' to show attacker and target, then the unit interrupting would use a set of 2's to mark their attacks, and so on, until some one does a non-attack and places the pair of markers next to each other to denote they aren't attacking. Then you can just count down to resolve actions.

Since you resolve the stack, you can just design a single set of 1-10 markers in red, 1-10 in blue, that should cover both players, and it would help cut down on confusion when things get crazy, while reminding people what unit is doing what.
Sorry, that makes sense
I was only thinking of visual symmetry
I've got vague ideas of system design, mostly stealing from 5e D&D but severely altering some basic mechanics.
>3d6+mods instead of d20
>to-hit is 3d6+mods+weapon damage die
>AC is damage reduction instead of to-hit
>reduce HP bloat by making it a class-based bonus + CON mod per level instead of dice
>add a "magic" stat that determines spell attack bonus and save DC for all magic users, while keeping INT/WIS/CHA to determine prepared spells
>minimum stats to start take classes
>all armor has STR requirements
I also want different magic systems for different casters.
>Sorcerers have a point system that amounts to a mana bar
>Wizards and the 1/3 arcane casters are pure vancian
>Clerics and Paladins have access to their whole spell list, but once a spell is cast it's locked in for the day and they can't prepare too many
>Druids are pure ritual casters but get very powerful rituals
>Bards become 1/2 caster vancian skill monkeys
>Rangers become a fighter subclass
Am I being a total cretin here, or do I have something to go with provide I can properly playtest and redo all the damn math?
Or should I just go play GURPS?
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I was trying to make a fantasy OSR type of game but I feel like I got carried away at some point. I should really just copypaste stuff from older versions instead of trying to reinvent the wheel when I don't need to.

Some information that is not included in the file because it's unfinished
Martial Maneuvers are thinks like trips, disarms, shoves, cleaves, etc.
Sorcerers are similar to the GLOG style of spellcasters. Not limited by spell slots and use a risk vs reward kind of spellcasting. Clerics are collapsed into this class. If you want to wear armor, use a mace and shield you just need strength.
Rogues are a class focused on tools, but because OSR are seriously lacking in that department I have to make them up myself. They are probably going to end up something like vancian casting only you just buy the "spells" instead of learning them. They are designed so that even if they aren't the best in direct confrontations they can still be very helpful.
Elves are kind of like spellswords and get instant access to some powerful spells, but they are all control-oriented and use 5e style concentration so you can't just spam the powerful ones and dominate everything. The elf spelllist is going to be more druidy and ranger like.
I really think this could work, the more risky element (but potentially more fun) being that every caster gets a different playstyle.

>add a "magic" stat that determines spell attack bonus and save DC for all magic users, while keeping INT/WIS/CHA to determine prepared spells
is a little strange because it seems incongruous with the way other attacks would be resolved
I think tokens would be a better idea as they'd make it slightly less fiddly.

What happens when a unit interrupts? Is it "tapped "until the next round or can it do an action again? How do you track what units have been tapped?
>I really think this could work, the more risky element (but potentially more fun) being that every caster gets a different playstyle.
Glad you like it! I love 5e but I hate how similar all the casters feel.
>the magic stat
I think you're right, but I wanted to lessen caster supremacy a bit by making them a little more MAD. The original ability scores would determine
>How many spells a cleric/paladin can have during the day
>How many slots a wizard can prep
>How many spells a sorcerer knows
>How many rituals a druid has
While MAG determines their to-hit and saves.

I was considering making all to-hit DEX and all damage STR but forgot to put that down, if that helps you get the philosophy behind it a little bit more.
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I've been testing with "double-sided" chips like pic-related for a two-action system. When a unit has taken one action, you place a token next to it yellow-side up. When it has taken two actions, you flip the token over to red.

Activating or interrupting with a unit that has already taken one action (has yellow next to it) costs a SP in addition to other costs; this does mean it's possible to lose actions if you don't save a SP for each intereupted unit.
gonna bump this post and ask for your opinions again. preferably from people who didn't already do so on dischord?
Looks like we're running out steam, guys.
Gimme a bit and I can log in from a real computer to give my thoughts.
Bumping while I read those blogposts.
So I can't comment too much on the second one, since I'm not familiar with CoC, but on the initial idea, I do think setting specific goals like that as a side-challenge is a good idea. I think a big problem game design hits at times is the idea that the only failure state is dying. When that's the only goal is to not die, the game becomes a bit dull. Its why scenario play is always superior, and why just combat-focused loops are really easy to get bored of; once you've mastered not dying, they are trivial. I can easily see the system being expanded upon.
I read the second post, and this does feel like something that IMO shouldn't be mechanical so much as something that comes as the result of the GM trying to be unambiguous while not railroady, and the players hopefully having enough common sense to piece things together.

IMO, it could just be one of the issues with dice games as a whole: "Take 10" versus spot checks, with the rolls determining if you find the one critical clue that ties everything back together. Personally, I would rather something like what Robin Laws does, where you have multiple "means"/resources to attempt to get closer to solving, whether it's "calling in a favor" from your contact at the news agency, or otherwise. Perhaps rather than it being a "fortune point," have a cooldown/drawback for calling on such resources (such as the cultists becoming alerted, etc).

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