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Friday, May 9, 2014

Throwback brain dump, A sliding scale between detail and wide strokes

Throwback brain dump post.
I used to do this quite a bit but have gotten away from it..I think I should do it more often.

Why not a broad stroke versus fine stroke mechanic, how about letting the amount of importance an encounter carries be the regulating factor in how detailed or lengthy the combat is.

This is like mook rules with a graded scale from Mook to powerful opponent.

Say for example your character is facing a group of mooks and you get one action per round. That action could be “kill mooks” or “run away” or “intimidate” regardless of the action the intent of the action is to END the encounter. If the player is successful then the character kills the mooks or gets away from them or scares them with his deep man voice until they shit. If the player fails the character suffers some set back, such as a stern mook beating, but regardless the encounter ends, it just ends with a character failure.

However if the Character faces a more powerful opponent the gm might say this encounter has 10 rounds in it, what are you doing. The player might choose to try and get to higher ground to earn an advantage, probe the targets defenses looking for weaknesses, or round kick the opponent in the knee trying to slow it down, regardless of the result the encounter continues with  character building up advantages and disadvantages until like most games someone  surrenders or  takes a dirt nap. Unless that magical 10th round comes along in which case the narrative resolves either in the favor to get player or not, but it resolves. The bad guy runs away, the good guy captures the bad guy, the lights go out and the Undertaker appears. Whatever happens something resolves the current conflict within narrative at 10 rounds.

To further this idea, if playing a game with a wide range of complexity say GURPS or something like it, a GM could prior to the game starting let the players know that he will be running three levels of combat, quick fight using only bare bones combat options for the least important encounters, medium combat with more of the standard options in play, and high detail or focused combat with more of that GURPSy  crunch that we either love or loath in play. Perhaps the GM could write available options on  index cards and  flip over what ever one is being applied during a combat so the players can see at a glance how much detail is being used.
I use GURPS as my example because I know it is modular and can be played at any depth from basic to      "OH MY GOD KILL ME NOW" levels of complexity. I  think in theory the idea would work with any game that includes an array of combat options.

This is not new it’s an old idea, but why not put fresh sauce on it.

Add something like this idea to a game, and see where it takes you.
As a GM say   "this encounter is only so-so important it can't go over four rounds." The hold yourself to it, and see if it changes how the game runs and how you start to view encounters and combats in general.

As always thank you for reading .. feel free to comment .. and have a great day.
-Mark