Wednesday 14 June 2023

Admiring the Scrap Heap

Lately my posts have mostly been content pulled straight from the most recent changes and additions to Mythic Bastionland. This has let me focus on grafting away at that game, not getting bogged down in writing extra content.

Except this week my progress has been:

  1. Think of a radical change to the game, right at the core of the system.
  2. Run an initial test of that system and get excited that it would streamline things and create some fun moments in play.
  3. Get over-excited and go through the document, applying this change across the board.
  4. Run some more tests of this new system and... find some unfortunate knock-on effects that would need fixing.
  5. Spend time applying those fixes to the document.
  6. Try the system out again... I’m not so sure about this actually.
  7. Take a hard look at this new system, comparing it to the existing system.
  8. Full of dread, face the facts that the original system was probably better overall.
  9. Feel intense relief that I backed up the document before I made all of these huge changes.

So I sat down this morning to work on Mythic Bastionland, staring at a document that is very much in the same place as it was last week.

Feels bad.

So instead I’m drawing on an old clich√©. 

I haven’t failed to make the game, I’ve succeeded in finding another way not to make the game.

There’s a branch of reality where I powered through with this change. Perhaps I didn’t back up the document, or I just couldn’t face undoing all that work. Perhaps the changes made for a better game, perhaps they made it worse and alienated the players that wanted something that still felt close to ITO and EB in mechanics.

We’ll never know, but right now I’m happy with this reality.

What was this big change anyway?

WELL SINCE YOU ASKED, but remember this is now right in the bin. Maybe something for a future project, but it didn’t feel right for this one.

Remove Guard entirely. Armour reduces incoming damage as normal, then the target decides which Virtue to assign the damage to. If there’s damage remaining it goes to another Virtue until it’s all been absorbed.

I tried a few variations of the fine details. What does having 1/2/3 Virtues at 0 mean? Is there an effect when a Virtue gets cut in half? How are Virtues restored now? Are they harder to restore when they’re at half/zero? When do you lose access to each of the Feats?

Details aside I do think there’s something there, and there’s a certain appeal to removing Guard entirely when we already have Armour and three different Virtues to work with, but the result was a system that just felt a little too far removed from ITO and EB and became a little too much about managing numbers. 

You also lose some of that immediate transparency where you can say “if you have Guard left you evaded the attack, if you took VIG loss then you’re wounded, if you lose have your VIG then you’re mortally wounded.”

So never say never, but for now this is firmly on the scrap heap. A scrap heap that should be viewed with pride, not shame.


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  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I am working on something based in Into The Odd. Allow me to tell you what I've done (not tested yet): Use Strengh/Vigor as HP/Guard. You don't roll saves until you get to zero. Then, you roll a save, but it is rolled at your original, max STR.
    Depending on if its lethal or stun damage, pass means you are unconscious instead of dead, or standing instead of KO.
    While you are at zero, repeat this save every time you are attacked until you drop.

    I must say that the game doesn't focus on combat, is more a cattle drive simulator with occasional man vs man and man vs beast fights