The travail of hammering out space combat rules continues in earnest and I think we’re making headway; also simplifying the starship construction rules is nearing completion for first draft so that’s good. It hasn’t been easy to keep the technical side of design but with a simplistic approach to allow young players to feel they can do it without exploding a vessel (ba-boom).
After Jerry Ozbun’s run of Code Red on NIMBUS-6 at a convention he had some great feedback which highlighted some issues to look at. And while Jerry was the first to admit some of them were purely due to a lack of system knowledge others I felt would best be served by looking at them closer.
The major one being damage. As it was the damage from weapons, versus armour was fairly linear (which is fine), but the health of the individual didn’t maintain this same scale. Instead it was defined by the character’s toughness. This lead to situations where many character’s would get knocked out of a battle in the first hit, as some only had 1 health to begin with, and if they weren’t covered in sheets of polycarbon nanoweave armour they would be out of the game (at least for a while). So to compensate for this there were two options, multiply the character’s health rating or divide the damage. We worked on dividing the damage – which worked well, but meant there was a math equation between the players and figuring out how much damage they had taken, and for the younger gamers (and most of the gamers) this broke the suspension of disbelief, taking them out of the game and causing a stress.
So it had to go. I put my head down and started crunching stats and trying out different game mechanics.
This lead me to take tough out of health itself and instead use it as a meter for determining whether or not the character could shrug off any damage that made it through their armour. So far it looks like it will work (at this point in time we haven’t actually tried it) and it means that the weapon damage remains linear as does the armour ratings. What it does do, that was an unexpected boon, was creating a situation where by certain weapons could not have their damage ignored.
Why is this good? Well in a previous post I mentioned the search for a solution to large scale weapons damage and the problem with linear damage systems being too overwhelming but games compensating with mega-armour or other such measures. Now in VANGUARD given, if this new system works, if a character gets hit with a .50cal round that makes it past their armour, they won’t be able to just shrug off the damage, even if it’s just a scratch, because a mere scratch from a .50cal round is like a smackdown from a 9mm – and that’s the point. Some weapons, if they hit then the damage they do is substantial.
This doesn’t mean that the character has no defence against them, they still get to dodge out of the way, and if that doesn’t work get the attack adjusted by what ever armour they are wearing – but if that isn’t enough to stop the attack from damaging them, then they’re not going to be able to just ignore the wound like they might from a smaller weapon. This form of damage from a weapon is referred to as its threat rating; so a knife might have a threat rating of 1 while a .50cal sniper rifle a 7 or 8.
So far it looks like a great restructuring of the damage system – looking forward to testing it out. And I’ll let you know how it goes.