Saturday, April 28, 2012

First Flying Swordsmen game

Dean and Jeremy just left.  We had a fun evening trying out Flying Swordsmen.  Character generation was not as bad as I thought it would be, although we did detect a small glitch (a remnant of Dragon Fist) that I'll edit out in a revised edition [to be released sometime in the future, after more actual play-testing is done].

One other legacy feature of Dragon Fist that I worried about was the initiative system.  Depending on which section you read, Dragon Fist actually had two systems.  The first was that everyone just goes on their action's speed (so everyone going on a medium speed 4 would go together, but an Insight stunt would add to your initiative).  The second, the one I thought was more "intended" is the one I went with: your action's speed, plus your stunt roll is your initiative.  But that requires everyone to declare actions and roll stunts, then the GM has to order everyone's actions, and then everything gets resolved. 

As we found out tonight, playing through a 5 Round combat between 4 PCs and 4 NPCs took a LONG time.  Like 4th Edition D&D long.  Part of that is because we're all (even me) getting used to the game system.  There were lots of spell lookups and questions about various things.  Part of it was that the declaration phase really slowed things down, and resulted in a lot of wasted actions.  Not exactly fast paced action like in a Jackie Chan movie, here.

So I've got a few options for changing Initiative.

Idea 1: Go back to the other "by the book" way from Dragon Fist.  The problem is Insight rolls, but since the only other thing they effect is saving throws, that might not be a problem.  Just declare an Insight stunt during the initiative phase.  Everyone else can declare their stunts on their turn.

Idea 2: No initiative.  Everyone gets an action in a round in which they begin with at least 1 hit point.  It's all simultaneous.  Seems like that might best simulate fast and furious martial arts action, actually, but is it practical at the game table?

Idea 3: d20 style initiative.  Roll once at the beginning of combat, with an Insight stunt bonus to the roll, then set the order from there and just cycle through.  Fair, but takes away the thrill of wondering if you can pull off your Mighty Iron Eagle Strike before your opponent casts a Withering Plum Blossom Palm spell on you.

Idea 4: some sort of integrated system where you roll d20 plus a stunt each round, and use that as your initiative AND your to-hit roll (if you make a to-hit roll). [Jeremy's idea]

Idea 5: A chart of maneuvers, your d20 roll tells you what you pull off, but your stunt allows you to shift up or down the chart by the number of the stunt.  [again, Jeremy, taking an idea from one of the swashbuckling games - Black Vulmea, if you're reading, you likely know the one he's talking about.]

Finally, I also may want to slightly rework some of the spells.  The NPC wizard, if I hadn't been trying to test out all three of her spells, likely could have turned the tide of battle by using her auto-hit damage dealing spell every round.  But it was Jeremy's Wizard who won the battle, by charming 3 of the 4 opponents.

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