Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Existential Crisis!

Chanbara.  Its fate is now unknown.

Nah, don't worry, I'm not gonna stop working on it.  It's just that, after looking at the fairly simple yet evocative classes presented in Go Fer Yer Gun!, and the simple and elegant multiclass/dual class mechanic presented, I'm rethinking all the work I've done so far.

People tell me how awesome Flying Swordsmen is.  And I agree (but then, I would).  But aside from running a few sessions of it myself (being too damn busy to actually run a campaign), I don't know anyone who's tried to actually play it.  Now, whether people actually do play it or not is actually inconsequential.  I wrote the game and released the game because I loved Dragon Fist and didn't want to see it disappear. 

I do often wonder, though, what exactly is it about Flying Swordsmen that people love?  Is it the fact that I, like Chris Pramas before me, managed to get the feel of Wuxia cinema matched to D&D game play?  Is it the innovation in the mechanics necessary to do that?  Or is it just the general feel and tone of the work? 

I know Flying Swordsmen is not the sort of game where you can just roll up a replacement PC in five minutes and get back in the game after a PC death (one of the reasons, along with it fitting the tropes of many martial arts movies, that death doesn't occur at 0hp in FS).  There are fiddly bits.  Feats.  A smaller list than d20, but characters tend to get more of them.  Is this customizability what prevents people from actually playing the game?  Or is it just the fact that most people prefer "vanilla" fantasy PC options even if most games seem to have moved away from "vanilla" fantasy worlds?

Urg, this is getting longer than I thought it would be.  But I guess it's helping me sort out my own feelings.  So here's what I'm thinking about Chanbara.

A#1: scrap the Maneuvers/Tricks/Spells system (which works like Martial Arts Maneuvers in Flying Swordsmen).  Each class will just have a set of special abilities that fit the class, similar to normal D&D/AD&D.  Alternate abilities might be offered by membership in certain organizations as an optional rule.

B#2: keep the Skill Dice system (works like FS's Stunt Dice) and use that as the catch-all for crazy stunts and awesome moves in and out of combat.

C#3: separate race from class (right now the Yokai are BX/BECMI style race-as-class), and use a multi-class/dual class system like in GFYG! to create a few of the archetypes of the genre, resulting in fewer classes overall.

D#4: do the same things in an overhaul of Flying Swordsmen.

These are just thoughts at the moment.  Chanbara is complete enough to run a few playtests.  I really just need to finish working up the campaign section.  I'll try to get a few games in as it stands at the moment, then make a final decision about keeping it as it is now or converting to a simpler version that will mesh better with other D&D clones.

If I do keep it as is, I might release a small supplement of "preset" classes for use with Labyrinth Lord or Swords & Wizardry.

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