Ads

Pages: [1]
  Print  
Author Topic: Dark Souls as a Table-Top (or Chat-Based) RPG  (Read 942 times)
Digital wizard
Moderator
Yrthak
*


View Profile
« on: July 28, 2018, 06:32:38 PM »

So those of you who've spent any time talking to me about video games have probably heard me extol the virtues of the Souls series, which has become a bit of a phenomenon (through Demon's Souls, the Dark Souls trilogy, Bloodborne, a board game, and other media) and created a term "Souls-like" for a slew of games inspired by their "difficult" playstyle and storytelling strategy. (e.g. Salt and Sancutary, Nioh, Lords of the Fallen). As of late I've also seen various threads and blog posts about running games set the Souls universe, along with various attempts to adapt the combat, NPCs, and general gameplay to the system (or create a new one).

Although it lacks some of the combat features that are iconic in Dark Souls (e.g. the bleed mechanic), I find this ruleset https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B2bP0GsXwg9xZnNIUjBYemVzLU0 makes a fairly complete attempt to emulate the experience. Has anyone out there played in a Dark Souls-inspired game, or wanted to? If you did, what'd you use? What do you think of these rules?
« Last Edit: July 28, 2018, 06:34:33 PM by Hoers » Logged


Administrator
Gelatinous Cube
*


View Profile
« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2018, 02:19:30 PM »

As I mentioned already, this system seems like a rather OSR-feeling system with a lot of weird stuff bolted on that I don't know enough about Dark Souls to know if it helps duplicate the feel of the game or is just weird. You are more experienced with these games than me, so if you feel like it captures the Dark Souls experience in tabletop form, I'll take your word for that. As a tabletop system itself, though, I'm not hugely into this.

Like OD&D, you randomly generate your stats by just rolling in order and you get what you get. And also like OD&D this isn't as big of a problem as it might seem because they don't actually do a whole lot. Your stat modifiers are based on dividing your stat by ten so everyone is going to get pushed into the same range, and the only real advantage you'll have is if you happen to get a +2 instead of a +1 in some stats... which doesn't matter that much, except with Endurance, where that means you get an extra Stamina and that basically means you get an extra action in combat so that's actually a pretty big deal.

As far as I can tell, the game has another similarity to OD&D in that it just kind of lacks a general task resolution system. There aren't skills as such; all I could find was some wonky roll-under mechanic using your Dexterity mod to dodge traps that you'll almost always fail.

Combat seems to be the big way that you use the crunch of this system, which I think is fitting for the feel of Dark Souls. A tabletop game is always going to be slower to resolve stuff than a video game, though, so I wonder if the added narrative flexibility really makes up for that in a satisfying way. The abstracting of range into "rings" is pretty cool and I like that, but otherwise the way the combat system works based on spending dice from a dice pool doesn't really feel like anything you'd be doing in Dark Souls and requires enough strategy on the level of this weird dice meta-game you're playing that it might be anti-immersive.

Then again when you're playing Dark Souls you're probably always going to have the sense you're playing a video game so maybe "immersion" isn't as important if that's the real feel you're trying to create. I mean, there's a whole respawning mechanic, which feels more like Paranoia and is kind of silly in a tabletop game. That whole "Host" mechanic is based on an explicit contrivance of the video game so adding it as an actual tabletop game mechanic is really goofy-- good thing it's an optional rule, I guess.

Personally, I'd be open to playing a "Dark Souls inspired game" in the sense of a dark fantasy game with difficult combat, but maybe not with these rules.

Logged


Digital wizard
Moderator
Yrthak
*


View Profile
« Reply #2 on: July 29, 2018, 03:11:27 PM »

sparkletwist

As I mentioned already, this system seems like a rather OSR-feeling system with a lot of weird stuff bolted on that I don't know enough about Dark Souls to know if it helps duplicate the feel of the game or is just weird. You are more experienced with these games than me, so if you feel like it captures the Dark Souls experience in tabletop form, I'll take your word for that. As a tabletop system itself, though, I'm not hugely into this.

Like OD&D, you randomly generate your stats by just rolling in order and you get what you get. And also like OD&D this isn't as big of a problem as it might seem because they don't actually do a whole lot. Your stat modifiers are based on dividing your stat by ten so everyone is going to get pushed into the same range, and the only real advantage you'll have is if you happen to get a +2 instead of a +1 in some stats... which doesn't matter that much, except with Endurance, where that means you get an extra Stamina and that basically means you get an extra action in combat so that's actually a pretty big deal.

As far as I can tell, the game has another similarity to OD&D in that it just kind of lacks a general task resolution system. There aren't skills as such; all I could find was some wonky roll-under mechanic using your Dexterity mod to dodge traps that you'll almost always fail.

Combat seems to be the big way that you use the crunch of this system, which I think is fitting for the feel of Dark Souls. A tabletop game is always going to be slower to resolve stuff than a video game, though, so I wonder if the added narrative flexibility really makes up for that in a satisfying way. The abstracting of range into "rings" is pretty cool and I like that, but otherwise the way the combat system works based on spending dice from a dice pool doesn't really feel like anything you'd be doing in Dark Souls and requires enough strategy on the level of this weird dice meta-game you're playing that it might be anti-immersive.

Then again when you're playing Dark Souls you're probably always going to have the sense you're playing a video game so maybe "immersion" isn't as important if that's the real feel you're trying to create. I mean, there's a whole respawning mechanic, which feels more like Paranoia and is kind of silly in a tabletop game. That whole "Host" mechanic is based on an explicit contrivance of the video game so adding it as an actual tabletop game mechanic is really goofy-- good thing it's an optional rule, I guess.

Personally, I'd be open to playing a "Dark Souls inspired game" in the sense of a dark fantasy game with difficult combat, but maybe not with these rules.



Fair points. The way the stats scale is an odd decision given the way that they scale in the real game (a stat generally has its obvious direct benefit, plus a secondary boost to certain defenses), but I can understand the intent to simplify them when considering just how many distinct secondary stats there are in the video games. They also generally had a "soft" cap after which you could continue to invest points, but got significantly reduced benefit up to the hard cap (generally you'd only do this if you really wanted to squeeze every bit of damage or effect out of a weapon or spell).

The skills are likely absent because the Souls games don't have them either - all resolutions are either through combat (where some boss and non-boss fights are optional), or through decisions that can have immediate- or long-term consequences. Given that the protagonist in the games only ever has their dialogue implied by these decisions and nothing else, such a limited resolution mechanic might not be enough, but it does have the "advantage" of being able to allow you to freely roleplay without having to worry about any restrictions (other than combat and environmental obstacles).

I wonder if this sort of system (possibly with changes) would work if there were a chat bot built to support all sorts of calculations for the players. This could be as simple as tracking stamina, and as complex as taking character "sheet" inputs and keeping a database of the derived stats, which is then queried whenever a combat action is taken. It seems like any system that is going to properly simulate the Souls feel is going to feature some way to make combat really fast - at least in comparison to more typical table-tops (I'd imagine a proper table-top Dark Souls game would feature combats lasting on the order of 2-5 minutes, as opposed to the 15+ that D&D battles can often occupy).

I had actually thought you'd like the respawn mechanic - I think it's a convenient middle-ground between our stances on character death. Although you can technically respawn forever in the video games (people often say that the game equivalent of "going Hollow" is getting frustrated and/or being done with the game and turning it off), it's probably actually better that there's a limited lives system. The process of going Hollow and becoming a hostile fixture (and with NPCs, often mini-bosses) is a recurring theme of the video games.

I agree the host stuff is kind of weird. One of the major components of the game series however is the online summoning co-op/invading PvP aspect, and while there's no reason you can't play without it (speed-runners do it all of the time, as do a lot of first-time players), I feel like it wouldn't have the same feel if the risk of the random invader encounters wasn't there (especially where there's usually an area or two in each game that is specifically designed to be protected by these invading players and/or NPCs). I wonder if the most reasonable way to include something like this is to create a table of random encounter chances for certain areas (some areas would not be invasion-enabled) - where the invader or invaders is a pre-generated character - which has a % chance multiplier for each additional person in the group (similar to how it queues up invasion priority in the games).
Logged


Administrator
Gelatinous Cube
*


View Profile
« Reply #3 on: July 29, 2018, 06:14:03 PM »

Hoers

The skills are likely absent because the Souls games don't have them either - all resolutions are either through combat (where some boss and non-boss fights are optional), or through decisions that can have immediate- or long-term consequences. Given that the protagonist in the games only ever has their dialogue implied by these decisions and nothing else, such a limited resolution mechanic might not be enough, but it does have the "advantage" of being able to allow you to freely roleplay without having to worry about any restrictions (other than combat and environmental obstacles).
I get that, but it seems like the tabletop game is trying to emulate the video game too closely. Open-ended gameplay where you can use lots of different skills to accomplish tasks is pretty difficult to put into a video game in a satisfying way, but with a DM to adjudicate things instead of having to only rely on predetermined outcomes, it becomes possible, and this added depth and increased capabilities can make up for some of the excitement that the video game has that a tabletop version will probably lack.

I'm glad you put scare quotes around that supposed "advantage" because it isn't really an advantage at all. This is where I am not a fan of OSR at all, and I am much more in favor of Fate-style light and abstracted rules rather than just not having rules. I mean, I'll say it again, because it's sort of important-- the game does not have any sort of a generic task resolution system at all! You can extrapolate a really terrible one from the way you dodge traps, but nobody actually bothered to even do that.

Hoers

I wonder if this sort of system (possibly with changes) would work if there were a chat bot built to support all sorts of calculations for the players. This could be as simple as tracking stamina, and as complex as taking character "sheet" inputs and keeping a database of the derived stats, which is then queried whenever a combat action is taken. It seems like any system that is going to properly simulate the Souls feel is going to feature some way to make combat really fast - at least in comparison to more typical table-tops (I'd imagine a proper table-top Dark Souls game would feature combats lasting on the order of 2-5 minutes, as opposed to the 15+ that D&D battles can often occupy).
I'm somewhat ambivalent about the merits of chat bot automation. I totally agree with you that fast combat is necessary, and slow dragging D&D-style combats would ruin the game. However, I also know that I tried to automate a lot of stuff related to the Asura system in sparkbot and all it really ever ended up doing was confusing people, and we barely ever used most of it. Perhaps I could have designed a clearer user interface, so I'm not totally turned off on the idea, but I'm also not sure how much it would help.

A more off the wall idea, I think, if we're talking computer enhancement, would be to simply jump into a game of Dark Souls set up to match the circumstances and play the combat in the game. Of course, this would at best require a lot of preparation on the part of the GM and to be honest might not even be possible at all, depending on the extent that Dark Souls can be modded. So that probably isn't going to happen.

Hoers

I had actually thought you'd like the respawn mechanic - I think it's a convenient middle-ground between our stances on character death.
I don't like it because it seems like it's focused on forcing you to replay certain parts of the game, especially replaying combat. This is tolerable in a video game but I think it's terrible in a tabletop game.

Hoers

One of the major components of the game series however is the online summoning co-op/invading PvP aspect, and while there's no reason you can't play without it (speed-runners do it all of the time, as do a lot of first-time players), I feel like it wouldn't have the same feel if the risk of the random invader encounters wasn't there (especially where there's usually an area or two in each game that is specifically designed to be protected by these invading players and/or NPCs).
Do you think the invading aspect is something that is actually important to the game's story, or is it mostly added to allow for a multiplayer aspect, which the tabletop game will already have by necessity? That is, is it something essential to the feeling of the world?
Logged


Digital wizard
Moderator
Yrthak
*


View Profile
« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2018, 08:07:40 PM »

sparkletwist

Hoers

The skills are likely absent because the Souls games don't have them either - all resolutions are either through combat (where some boss and non-boss fights are optional), or through decisions that can have immediate- or long-term consequences. Given that the protagonist in the games only ever has their dialogue implied by these decisions and nothing else, such a limited resolution mechanic might not be enough, but it does have the "advantage" of being able to allow you to freely roleplay without having to worry about any restrictions (other than combat and environmental obstacles).
I get that, but it seems like the tabletop game is trying to emulate the video game too closely. Open-ended gameplay where you can use lots of different skills to accomplish tasks is pretty difficult to put into a video game in a satisfying way, but with a DM to adjudicate things instead of having to only rely on predetermined outcomes, it becomes possible, and this added depth and increased capabilities can make up for some of the excitement that the video game has that a tabletop version will probably lack.

I'm glad you put scare quotes around that supposed "advantage" because it isn't really an advantage at all. This is where I am not a fan of OSR at all, and I am much more in favor of Fate-style light and abstracted rules rather than just not having rules. I mean, I'll say it again, because it's sort of important-- the game does not have any sort of a generic task resolution system at all! You can extrapolate a really terrible one from the way you dodge traps, but nobody actually bothered to even do that.

Hoers

I wonder if this sort of system (possibly with changes) would work if there were a chat bot built to support all sorts of calculations for the players. This could be as simple as tracking stamina, and as complex as taking character "sheet" inputs and keeping a database of the derived stats, which is then queried whenever a combat action is taken. It seems like any system that is going to properly simulate the Souls feel is going to feature some way to make combat really fast - at least in comparison to more typical table-tops (I'd imagine a proper table-top Dark Souls game would feature combats lasting on the order of 2-5 minutes, as opposed to the 15+ that D&D battles can often occupy).
I'm somewhat ambivalent about the merits of chat bot automation. I totally agree with you that fast combat is necessary, and slow dragging D&D-style combats would ruin the game. However, I also know that I tried to automate a lot of stuff related to the Asura system in sparkbot and all it really ever ended up doing was confusing people, and we barely ever used most of it. Perhaps I could have designed a clearer user interface, so I'm not totally turned off on the idea, but I'm also not sure how much it would help.

A more off the wall idea, I think, if we're talking computer enhancement, would be to simply jump into a game of Dark Souls set up to match the circumstances and play the combat in the game. Of course, this would at best require a lot of preparation on the part of the GM and to be honest might not even be possible at all, depending on the extent that Dark Souls can be modded. So that probably isn't going to happen.

Hoers

I had actually thought you'd like the respawn mechanic - I think it's a convenient middle-ground between our stances on character death.
I don't like it because it seems like it's focused on forcing you to replay certain parts of the game, especially replaying combat. This is tolerable in a video game but I think it's terrible in a tabletop game.

Hoers

One of the major components of the game series however is the online summoning co-op/invading PvP aspect, and while there's no reason you can't play without it (speed-runners do it all of the time, as do a lot of first-time players), I feel like it wouldn't have the same feel if the risk of the random invader encounters wasn't there (especially where there's usually an area or two in each game that is specifically designed to be protected by these invading players and/or NPCs).
Do you think the invading aspect is something that is actually important to the game's story, or is it mostly added to allow for a multiplayer aspect, which the tabletop game will already have by necessity? That is, is it something essential to the feeling of the world?

Regarding the skills/resolution mechanic, it's not like the worlds found in Dark Souls couldn't use a wide array of skills, but the tone/message of the games has always been that you'll begin, progress, and end your quest through defeating enemies through combat (with choices with regards to NPC conversations, some item/environment uses, and sequence of completing areas influencing how you might end it). I think a system playing a Dark Souls world would almost necessitate being very combat-focused for this reason. Additionally, a recurring theme in the games is that the character(s) have come to the world long after its "golden age", where most of the inhabitants have gone Hollow (most other settings' equivalent of "undead", which has a different meaning in the Souls universe), and the other non-Hollow people you meet are invaders, summons/summoners (NPC or human), or a dozen or so merchants and helpful and/or mischevious NPCs you will meet throughout. This looks like more of a way to encourage the playstyle of the video games through having many hostile enemies to deal with, but it'd feel weird running a game in a Souls universe inside its respective "golden age".

I don't think modding a game and jumping in would work - to get anywhere close I think you'd have to have everyone buy a copy of Dark Souls 3 (assuming they could run it) and make up a pile of houserules and strategies to make anything look remotely reasonable. You'd spend a lot of time just traveling through game areas to get to what you'd want to use to do this, countering the intended "fast" combat resolution.

You're right in that the respawn makes you replay some parts of the game, but bosses and most mini-bosses typically don't come back, and the run-through mechanic could easily be adapted into a more heroic "you smash through those guys on the way" thing. I'd certainly do that were I running it.

I think the invading aspect is really key. One theme recurring in the games is that the "flow of time is convoluted" as one of the mascots (Solaire) states in the first game when you meet him. This is another gimmick to provide lore to a gameplay mechanic, but it ends up working really well for it. Throughout the games, some invaders actually play out stories that are relevant to what you're doing and co-op summons have similar potential outcome changes if you bring them in to help defeat the area boss(es). Gaining rank in the various covenants - which ultimately doesn't have a major effect on your story on its own except for what spells, items, etc. you get to help (with the exception of one "hidden" covenant in the second game) - usually requires collecting consumables that can be acquired by helping others or by invading and defeating them.

All of these things are definitely essential to the feel of the world, but a lot of the aspects don't really fit well with a traditional party-based RPG. The summons in particular can be summoned at random places in multiplayer-enabled areas (players carry a soapstone that they can write their summon "sign" onto the ground with, which other players can touch to call them), and disappear after beating the boss (unless they die, in which case they just go back to their world without losing anything). Similarly invaders go into an area and use a "red eye orb" to try and find another player actively trying to complete the area to invade them and try to kill them for a reward (based on the covenant the invader belongs to), which forces the player to respawn and drop their collected rewards (the XP/gold is one currency in the games; it can be recovered if they get back to the place where they died and collect it without dying again first) but not their items; if the invader dies there, they similarly return with no effect. This sounds disadvantageous to the host player, but by being "embered/human" (which enables the multiplayer stuff), they are able to both summon and be invaded, and additionally get a big health boost compared to the summons/invaders. A less important note is that invaders with rare exceptions are always lower level than those they invade.

Anyway, that's a ramble. I wonder if the general format of the "multiplayer" might be conductive to a campaign of sorts with lots of players who drop in and out of the game, but it'd be hard to make it work for a normal "story" in a Souls universe. The other real looming problem is that if you're interested in the visceral, adrenaline-fueled combat of the game instead of just the tone, it'll be hard to do that regardless of how the system is built if there isn't some fancy graphical interface, so maybe that's the more important factor. If you're interested in seeing what the flow of combat and invasions is like, here's a relatively short video from the 3rd game of what combat is like featuring the various NPC invaders throughout the game (invaders are colored red or purple): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=41VMcbJB6Lk

I'm going to try and come up with a full list of what things would be present in some form to make it feel like a Souls game. For combat, it might not even be that you have this fast-paced set of actions so much as you have a stamina pool that you have to manage every round to make actions (attacking, running, dodging, blocking, casting spells, parrying).
« Last Edit: July 29, 2018, 08:19:19 PM by Hoers » Logged


Administrator
Gelatinous Cube
*


View Profile
« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2018, 09:20:38 PM »

Hoers

Regarding the skills/resolution mechanic, it's not like the worlds found in Dark Souls couldn't use a wide array of skills, but the tone/message of the games has always been that you'll begin, progress, and end your quest through defeating enemies through combat (with choices with regards to NPC conversations, some item/environment uses, and sequence of completing areas influencing how you might end it). I think a system playing a Dark Souls world would almost necessitate being very combat-focused for this reason.
That's fair, but that doesn't mean there shouldn't still be a simple out of combat task resolution system on top of that. D&D is also pretty combat-focused, but it always has rules for other tasks as well, because players will certainly try to apply their abilities out of combat. Even 4th edition, which was really focused around combat and didn't have a whole lot else, still had a basic skill system for out of combat stuff.

Hoers

I don't think modding a game and jumping in would work - to get anywhere close I think you'd have to have everyone buy a copy of Dark Souls 3 (assuming they could run it) and make up a pile of houserules and strategies to make anything look remotely reasonable. You'd spend a lot of time just traveling through game areas to get to what you'd want to use to do this, countering the intended "fast" combat resolution.
I meant modding it more extensively, so you'd have a custom map that was exactly where the fight was supposed to be, or whatever. It'd be quite a bit of work for the GM if it was even possible, so it isn't going to be practical for most games.

Hoers

This is another gimmick to provide lore to a gameplay mechanic
I agree with this part of it. I do have to say, I think it might be that your great familiarity and enthusiasm for the Souls games mean that you may be immersed enough in the game's lore to perhaps miss just how video gamey this stuff looks to someone who isn't so acquainted with them. That's not to say these lore elements are all bad or the underlying mechanics are all inapplicable to tabletop gaming-- as you have noted, the idea of "summons" and "invasions" seems like it would work really well in a casual game where players can easily drop in and drop out.

Hoers

The other real looming problem is that if you're interested in the visceral, adrenaline-fueled combat of the game instead of just the tone, it'll be hard to do that regardless of how the system is built if there isn't some fancy graphical interface, so maybe that's the more important factor.
This is also true, but on the other hand I feel like the right sort of system can capture some of the feeling of the combat (if not quite so adrenaline-fueled) if it has mechanics that lead to similar sorts of snap decisions that have to be made in the game.

There's a card game called Yomi that is based on fighting games like Street Fighter. The basic gameplay is rock-paper-scissors, where the two combatants each play a card face down and then flip it over at the same time, and the loser of the exchange takes damage. There are also special moves and combos to follow up a successful attack, which you can play. Each character has their own deck with moves geared towards that character's own feel. It really does a good job of capturing what it feels like to play a fighting game, even though it's not actually anything like playing one. The visuals and the need for fast reflexes have been taken out, but the idea of anticipating the opponent's tactics based on the situation and using the appropriate counter is very much relevant. So maybe something in this mold could work?
Logged


Digital wizard
Moderator
Yrthak
*


View Profile
« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2018, 08:10:10 PM »

So here are the core mechanics that I think collectively define the mechanics and fluff of Souls games:

Mechanics
  • Brutal-but-fair, fast combat. Enemies and situations rarely ever become unthreatening, but you gain more methods to approach them and can handle more complex encounters
  • "Tension-inducing decision-making", e.g. deciding to use up your stamina to make an extra swing or spell cast at the risk of having none to dodge/block the counterattack with
  • Stats: DkS3 for example has Str (some weapons' damage), Dex (some weapons' damage), Vigor (HP), Vitality (equip load), Endurance (stamina), Attunement (cast speed, spell slots, mana pool increase), Intelligence (sorcery spells, fire spells, magic damage and res), Faith (holy spells, fire spells, lightning damage and res), Luck (item drop, bleed and poison effectiveness). All stats contribute to a lesser extent on various defenses and resistances
  • Hybrid magic system: Attunement stat provides a number of spell slots to assign known spells to (with diminishing returns to acquire), and also provides a mana pool that is shared among the spells you might want to cast
  • Magical movesets: "Weapon arts" for different weapons that use the same mana to perform effectively
  • Stat- over proficiency-based item usability. Allows the "quality" build (improving both Str and Dex) and diversifies options. This is not as universal with magic - the "Pyromancy" spells in the game require a mix of both Intelligence and Faith for example, allowing you to be proficient in Sorceries (Int) and Miracles (Faith) as well, but the reverse is not true (the latter two types require heavy, exclusive investment into the one stat)
  • Weapon/casting focus upgrades meaning just as much if not more for damage output, including due to increasing the damage multiplier from the stats they scale with (e.g. a +10 sword having an "A" grade multiplier rather than a +0's "C" for the Strength stat)
  • Parry and riposte/backstab/other critical damage opportunities adding to combat intensity

Fluff
  • Closed but interconnected world with unlockable shortcuts, alternate routes
  • Recurring theme of acting in the "final" stage of something, e.g. the end of the age of the gods
  • Lack of backstory
  • Limited allies/neutral encounters, most of which come from other players
  • Antagonistic encounters with other players, where there are rewards for invaders killing other players
  • Generous "second-chance" death mechanic, but with possibility of permadeath/"corruption" after too many
  • Focus on kill-or-be-killed as a story resolution mechanic - again, most adversaries are that way because of corruption or because they are spawn of sinister circumstance
  • Covenant allegiances changing the way players interact with each other and the rest of the world
  • Overlapping timelines/realities on essentially- or mostly-the-same game world (tied to the summoning/invasion concept)

A lot of that mechanics list just looks like it won't translate too well, but we'll see.
Logged


Administrator
Gelatinous Cube
*


View Profile
« Reply #7 on: August 01, 2018, 08:17:33 PM »

Ok, that's a good list!

I like the idea of fast, brutal-but-fair combat and I think using stamina as a central tactical mechanic is a good one. The "range rings" abstraction that the game you found uses is a pretty good one, and I think it keeps the feel of a Dark Souls battle intact, while using a grid map might just be unnecessary complexity and slow the battle down for no real gain.

All of the stats are combat stats, ultimately. This is like D&D and unlike some other tabletop games where you have stats that are specifically devoted to out-of-combat utility. I think a big question around any "Dark Souls inspired" game is to what extent out of combat stats are even going to matter. Not having any mechanics for out of combat stuff is one option, but I'm not sure if it's the best one. Being able to use these stats for "skill checks" could work, instead.

I don't know what you mean by "magical movesets" and "weapon arts" so if you wouldn't mind could you explain that a little more?

Anyway, this a good list but the one thing missing is just... the overall feeling, I guess. What sort of primary actions do you see as being important in combat? What kind of tactics go through your mind in a Dark Souls battle? Like, how would we abstract this down to something that's tactically interesting but can be played at a tabletop? How about the idea used by Yomi, and also I think by Riddle of Steel, where both combatants choose a strategy and then you reveal them at the same time and you see how they interact?
Logged


Digital wizard
Moderator
Yrthak
*


View Profile
« Reply #8 on: August 01, 2018, 08:33:52 PM »

I think that would be a good way to provide a top-level interaction in combat. When I think of what made Dark Souls combat for me, I think about the PvP and how aggressive it made me - as a perpetual invader (i.e. try to ruin peoples' day as they try to get through an area for covenant rewards), I think about the all-out aggressiveness strategy I took, where I'd get repeatedly right in someone's face at the risk of taking extra hits just to spook them and make them scared of every swing I made. I also think of the other extreme, where some players will get a high-defense shield and just "turtle" behind it and take jabs when they can. A lot of it comes down to positioning - meaning a grid is pretty much essential for a TTRPG - where various consumables/buffs are implied through cast/use times to require "space" during combat to use. "Primary actions" in combat revolve around this kind of posturing, or around mutually-familiar enviroment/enemy placement (again, a product of the "time is convoluted" gimmick where each character is from one of multiple timelines that see essentially the same layout) to gain an advantage.

Does that answer the question?

Magical movesets are basically special high damage/high reach/high AoE attacks that cost mana to use without a damage penalty. If you have enough mana, the attack goes through (provided the enemy is within range). If not, it usually still works but barely does any damage. If it's instead a "buff" or something, it just fails. At least in Dark Souls 3, this was a combination of "unique to the weapon type" and "one-off weapons having weird abilities". In practice, that'd probably translate to weapon classes having special moves, with legendary weapons of heroes/villains/ubermonsters having special abilities. I call them "magical movesets" because some iconic ones would imbue the specific weapon with fire/lighting/magic damage for a short period rather than having an explicit special attack.
« Last Edit: August 01, 2018, 08:39:16 PM by Hoers » Logged


Administrator
Gelatinous Cube
*


View Profile
« Reply #9 on: August 02, 2018, 08:13:58 PM »

Yes, that answers the question, thank you!

Saying a grid is pretty much essential is an interesting divergence, though. The game as presented didn't have one, and even D&D doesn't strictly need one although positioning and ranges and such can be trickier without one. It seems like it could be the sort of thing that slows the game down, which is, of course, not good. Fate uses "zones," which allow modeling distances abstractly, and also including certain areas that have various battlefield features or hazards. I wonder if using zones and then using the distance between zones to determine range wouldn't be a worthwhile compromise.
Logged


Digital wizard
Moderator
Yrthak
*


View Profile
« Reply #10 on: August 03, 2018, 05:55:48 PM »

sparkletwist

Yes, that answers the question, thank you!

Saying a grid is pretty much essential is an interesting divergence, though. The game as presented didn't have one, and even D&D doesn't strictly need one although positioning and ranges and such can be trickier without one. It seems like it could be the sort of thing that slows the game down, which is, of course, not good. Fate uses "zones," which allow modeling distances abstractly, and also including certain areas that have various battlefield features or hazards. I wonder if using zones and then using the distance between zones to determine range wouldn't be a worthwhile compromise.

It might - it would probably be a nice balance between the hardcore grid aspect, and more abstract combat - you know, keeping enough crunch to the maneuverability to keep different abilities and decisions distinct.

I'm trying to think of a more familiar parallel to describe the two extremes. It's almost like difference combat stances - at one extreme, you have what is essentially a barbarian rage - higher damage output, more frequent hits (possibly with consumable weapon buffs like fire, lighting, or poison "pine resin"), while on the other you have a full defense option that allows you to make AoOs after a few consecutive blocked attacks. There's also the parry option, where you can cause a "severe stagger" that gives you the option to do a high-damage crit (with a brief window - probably equivalent to a single round) or do something else like drink a potion, retreat, etc.), while the advantage in theory of being super aggressive/opportunistic (although not explicit to this tactic) is to cause stagger in an opponent, which stops their attacks mid swing and/or opens them up to more hits. Massive strikes (big weapons or other explosive/high impact spells and items) tend to knock people back and off their feet.

Somewhere in the middle you have the "combat aid" roles where miracle-based casters are doing some heals/buffs, sorcery-based casters are lobbing soul arrows/spears (think of them as magic missiles or lightning bolts that can be dodged), and pyromancers that are lobbing fireballs and/or poisonous clouds (the former are fire projectiles with small AoEs, some leave lingering pools of lava). All three could be mixed into melee/ranged combat engagement.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2018, 05:58:57 PM by Hoers » Logged


Pages: [1]
  Print  
 
Jump to: