Monday, April 8, 2013

[Design Journal: Heroes of Legend RPG] 1 Action Point = 1 Die

In my last Design Journal entry for Heroes of Legend I talked about a character’s nine core attributes and the basics of how you’ll make an attribute check. Now I’m going to go into a little more detail about different types of actions and how attribute checks are made. But first, I want to explain a very important design principle regarding the use of action points and rolling dice.

Basically, the principle is this: 1 action point = 1 die.

In other words, anytime you roll dice for an action, the number of dice you roll is equal to the number of action points you spent to perform that action. The size of the dice is based on your rank in an attribute, or on the weapon you’re using – in the case of an attack.

As design work continues on this game, this principle will help me to keep various abilities balanced with one another. For example, if an attack costs three action points to perform and lets you roll three damage dice, then a healing power that costs three action points to perform should let you heal three dice worth of hit points.

Now, I mentioned different types of actions. I’m not sure if this is a concept that will be spelled out in the final game text, or if it is simply a principle I’ll use in design, but all actions that a character can take in HoL could fall into one of a few categories. This is going to sound like a contradiction of the simple “spend action points instead of tracking an allotment of certain types of actions” concept I’ve mentioned earlier, but it really is just a short-hand way of talking about that concept.

Here are the different categories of actions and what they mean:

Costs 1 action point; roll 1 die.
Examples: Glancing around a room to spot a hidden enemy. Drawing or sheathing a weapon.

Costs 2 action points; roll 2 dice.
Examples: Maneuvering to gain a tactical advantage against an enemy. Moving from one square to another.

Costs 3 action points; roll 3 dice.
Examples: Attack with a weapon. Use a spell-like effect.

Costs 4 action points; roll 4 dice.
Examples: Talk down a foe. Disable a trap.

Costs 5 action points; roll 5 dice.
Examples: Administer first aid. Solve a puzzle.

Extended actions are actually sort of a modifier to other action types. Extended actions are very complex tasks that can’t generally be completed in a single turn or less. In the case of an extended action, a character may use one of the other types of actions on their turn to make progress on the action. The result of their roll is recorded and combined with the results of any future die rolls to accomplish the same task.
Examples: Searching a room for a hidden item might be an extended instinctive action. Characters can be doing other things – even fighting off enemies – while searching the room, but it will take more than a simple glance around to spot the hidden item. In a sense, fighting an enemy is an extended standard action. Each damage roll reduces the enemy’s hit points until they’re eventually defeated.

That’s it for now. Next time I’ll talk about determining target numbers for attribute checks. Let me know if you have any thoughts on the design so far. Thanks!

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