Rules Follow Up – Goblin Problem
Another game session Saturday – that’s three sessions into the new campaign with the new ruleset. At the end we had a conversation around various facets of the rules (the magic system, and the concept of Areas) and I’ve be thinking about it since. Here are some ideas for changes and updates:
1. Magic System – The current system is based, at least in part, on the system in Fantasy Craft. At the beginning of an encounter (or scene), a magic user semi-randomly determines how many spell points he has. The number of spell points determines how many spells can potentially be cast during that encounter. Spells are successfully cast on a successful Spellcraft roll. Some spells do allow for saves, but even on a successful save the spell generally has at least some effect (the idea being that once a spell is successfully cast there should be some ‘reward’).
Joe (who is playing a magic user named Arketh) doesn’t like the Spellcraft roll as he feels it makes magic users too weak. I looked at this last night and I have to respectfully disagree. During yesterday’s session, there were three combat related encounters. Arketh – a second level magic user – successfully threw (at least) 3 Magic Missiles, 2 Burning Hands, and 1 Sleep spell and could still continue to cast spells if the adventure continued. A D&D 3.5 wizard can cast four 0-level spells (cantrips) and two 1st-level spells per day(!).
0-level spells are basically old style cantrips, a magic user in Aspect of Fantasy has 2 of these cantrips already ‘built in” and can use them anytime he wants (in the Arketh’s case, he has Mage Hand for having the Conjuror background while all magic users get Detect Magic).
The system in Aspects of Fantasy is designed to eliminate those situations where parties withdraw or encamp to wait until the next day when their magic users gets their spells back. It is also supposed to make a magic user more effective at lower levels. In fact, in reviewing this, I’m starting to think they might be too effective(!) though I haven’t necessarily seen this in practice. In any event, getting rid of the Spellcraft roll makes magic users WAY too powerful.
Another thing Joe brought up was the lack of Summoning spells. I have not been a big ‘Summoning Spell’ guy as I think another combatant can bog down games (look up the creatures stats, what are its feats, bring out a miniature, etc.) but since AoF is supposed to streamline things like stats and feats, and since I’m rethinking miniature use (see below), I’ve changed my mind and decided I’ll put them in the game.
2. Areas vs Grid – While I’ve switched over to a more abstract ‘Area’ system – leaving the grid behind – I’m still using miniatures to represent what ‘Area’ monsters and characters are located. It’s not working. Both the players and myself naturally want to place a miniature relative to where it’s located in an ‘Area’, but by doing so we are taking something abstract and trying to make it ‘realistic’. This has just caused confusion.
Miniatures provide two advantages, imho. They provide a reference showing where everyone is located relative to everyone else, and they provide a nice visual…pre-painted miniatures with painted terrain pieces on a fully illustrated grid can look pretty cool. However, there are also disadvantages. Miniatures can put the focus of the game more on the tabletop, less on the story. It can be time consuming to pull out the right miniatures for a game; more importantly, it can add a lot of time to combat. Placing and positioning miniatures invariably takes time. Yesterday, we had one combat where 5 player characters took on 16 goblins, their hob leader, and two allied demons. Even with the miniatures on the table I felt that the combat resolved relatively quickly. If we had done that on a grid with square movement I guarantee it would have taken 30%- 40% longer. I’ve been looking for ways to quicken the pace of combat, not using miniatures might be a good way to do this. So, I’m going to stop using miniatures. I’ll have miniatures for showing “order of march” and maybe will bring one out as a visual aid, but that’s about it. Oh, some day I may change my mind and move everything over to square based movement, but right now I’m sticking with ‘Areas’ and no miniatures.
Well, that’s it for now. Please provide any feedback you might have. Thanks to everyone who was there on Saturday!