Large Scale Combat for Old School Hack Progress Report, and Future Planning

Good news and bad news.

The good news is that I have some cool ideas for handling large-scale combat in Old School Hack. The bad news is, in testing out my first draft, it’s clunky. So, back to the drawing board. I’ll get there.

In other news, I have some ideas that I think are really great for adding a real contextual feel to the game. I have tried to do minimal structural changes as I have added content to Old School Hack; there were some things I felt I had to address (like how you get at languages and learning to play instruments, and how hard some talents should be to learn, and long term play, and clerics or wizards with a greater variety of differentiation.)

There were other things I grit my teeth and left alone, for broadest play utility of the stuff I was doing with other groups (like armor class instead of defense class+soak, generating 1-4 level titles, not directly tackling the random difficulty standard, etc.)

I feel I have been most successful in the middle ground, where I come up with additional mini-systems that don’t change what exists, but add additional utility. Like the firearms rules.

It’s that last category I’m taking aim at with my mass combat rules. Personal combat is unchanged, but there’s a way to quickly handle mass battle. Hey, my version is clunky right now, but it’s got some sexy stuff IN it.

I am also working on an innovation that I think is really exciting, if I can get it the way I want it. I’m working on developing a setting to play Old School Hack. It is more evocative than “do something generic plus gonzo” and gives a sense of the kind of game world where this system works best.

Part of that work is a system of ethnicity. Having talents related to broad culture types, having ways to take talents to embody the stereotypes of your culture, and benefiting from your travels by learning tricks for which other places are famous.

While I feel that seeing a human being through a stereotype is damaging to their dignity, I also feel that in using broad storytelling styles stereotypes are a great way to make a place feel more real and give the players excitement when their characters travel both within familiar territory and beyond it.

I’m working to “broad stroke” up a world, then focus in on a region (including Baffram, and Oscelot, and Aglatch as well as the other wizard traditions, etc.) so new DMs for OSH are not compelled to try to make up a whole world or stitch it together out of the broadest cliches and stereotypes they can summon to mind. Also keeping it flexible enough they don’t feel like they have to memorize a book to play.

By putting “The Fictive Way” on it, that doesn’t interfere with anyone else’s enjoyment if they don’t like that style. But for those who want more support, I aim to provide it.

Also, my geomorph stocker is coming along very well. It will take me time to get a draft ready to share, but it will have a LOT of background support so even if you don’t use it to stock geomorphs you have a big toolbox  to quickly make a consistent, evocative, and fun game with a minimum of stress and pressure to create consistent rulings and settings on the fly that you must remember if the players ever return.

Should be worth the price of admission (yeah, free, so that’s “bandwidth and attention span”) just for the bestiary and magic items. And there will be a lot more. A LOT more.

Anyway, there’s an update.

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