I’ve recently been struggling again with trying to write a game- this time, some sort of Kung Fu action game. You can read a power 19, and some basic rules, in the treads over on the Grumbling Dwarf indie forum.
So I’ve been thinking hard about if I’m writing the right game or not, or if I’m writing a game just to write it. Let’s look at some of the things I want my game to do:
*Have lots of cool special powers.
*Have tactical and engaging combats.
*Compel the players to action.
*Result in dramatic play.
*Be easy on the GM, as far as prep time is concerned.
*Feel like awesome Kung Fu wuxia action.
There’s a couple things going on here, and it’s important to question- are any of these contradictory with each other? A vast network of special powers will make it hard for the GM to build characters, so such a game will either need to compromise the scope of it’s kewl powers or have some sort of GM shortcuts.
On a subtler note, dramatic stories and tactical combats don’t always, or even often, go hand in hand- it’s a careful balancing act to make sure they don’t step on each other’s toes, so one doesn’t have to make the choice of winning vs. telling a neat story. (And I’m not really looking for anything deep here. Perhaps a slight dash of ‘Vanilla’ Narrativism, if that, but really more in flags- see below.)
So how am I going to do all this?
*Cool powers, yet flexible chargen for the GM: Mook rules, or intermediary character rules are golden here, as well as stock characters that are actually well-written enough and broad in scope to be useful.
*Tactical and engaging combats, but also drama: nifty decisions each round, some sort of dramatic stake that shows that things are serious. Player-driven (i.e. flag choices) story options that make sure the players really want to win.
Hmmm, what are some things I *don’t* care about, and should avoid if I have the option:
*Extensive skill lists.
*Extensive weapon and armor lists.
*Realism, in general.
*An overemphasis on collaborative scene framing, stake setting, or narration rights. These are all good things in the right game, and I’m likely to borrow little bits of them, but it’s the wrong game to go full out on this stuff.