Batman game on Monday, been pondering how I might fiddle with the rules.
I decided that I liked the card-based activation system. I don't see the need for any major changes there.
The basic combat system seems OK too - roll some dice for the attacker and see how many score hits, then have the defender roll dice to see how many hits are blocked.
So really it was the vague nature of some of the powers I wanted to think about, as well as the rather arbitrary game stats.
I decided to approach the latter issue first, and look at a way of streamlining characters so that they were as similar as possible, but still allowing for the possibility of variation. I decided that most variation should come from the powers and abilities, with subtleties of attack and defence factors being abstracted and assumed to represent a whole range of different combat abilities and fighting styles.
The approach I decided to adopt was to give every character a level, or number, representing how good they are. So:
3 = Heroes/Villains
2 = Sidekicks/Minor Characters
1 = Henchmen/Police/Goons
This number covers how many attack dice the character rolls, how many dice they defend with and how many hits they can take. Obviously some powers would allow Red dice (where a six equals two hits) to be rolled, or allow rerolls.
So in the last game, for example, Batman and The Joker would be level 3, Robin would be level 2 and the Henchmen level 1
For now I just have all characters move 6". It would be easy enough to have abilities which allow faster or slower movement rates.
I decided to adopts a songs of Blades and Heroes approach to ranges - simple range bands; characters can attack at up to either zero range (base contact), short range (3"), medium range (6") or long range (12"), depending on their abilities. I would probably have some abilities attacking at a range even if the character doesn't normally make ranged attacks.
One thing I wanted to add was a mechanism for slowing down characters if they take lots of attacks. This gives a use for henchmen and similar - they might not be able to damage a character, but enough of them can force him to dodge and evade enough that his other actions are limited. Each hit scored (whether blocked or not) would put a 'disruption' marker on a character (and I need a good, comic-sounding, name for the markers). When their turn comes to act, their level and the number of markers dictates whether they get both a move and an action, a move or an action, or get to do nothing. They then removed some or all markers. I still haven't pinned down exactly how this would work; I have some ideas, but they need serious testing.
The 'disruption' mechanisms can be extended to cover powers which bind or hinder characters as well, a form of streamlining of mechanisms which appeals to me.
Anyway, I spent a spare fifteen minutes last night trying out the basics of these ideas, using the same characters from the last game, but just in a straight fight rather than with the objectives. And it was fun. The game flowed smoothly, Batman and Robin were utterly heroic, but there were moments when things could have gone wrong for them, which is how a game should be - it wasn't one-sided. Robin knocked out a couple of henchmen, before The Joker took him down. Batman and The Joker smacked each other about for a while, whilst the remaining Henchmen tried to help, but when The Joker was knocked out the Henchmen were pretty much doomed. Batman was down to his last hit, though. The 'disruption' mechanism had potential, but still needs serious tweaking.
I might write all this up properly one day.