Saturday, March 31, 2018

Badass Kung Fu Demigods, draft # 8 is done!

Who could possibly be interested in regular blog posts? Your audience? Potential buyers of your game? Naaaaah.

Sorry it's been so long. The good news is that I have been hard at work on Badass Kung Fu Demigods. Just completed the 8th draft a few days ago and figured I'd go over it here...that being the entire point of this blog.

Badass Kung Fu Demigods v 0.8  

So, it's a little bit lighter on the major structural changes to the mechanics, but there's some significant differences here. 
Fighting Styles and Backgrounds
The biggest one is that I've split Traits into two categories: Fighting Styles and Backgrounds. This is actually a huge throwback to the game that eventually transformed into Badass Kung Fu Demigods, the PDQ martial arts game Battle Royale. So, why am I going back to the start? 

First is that I realized that while having combat and non-combat Traits mixed interchangeably works okay for some games like vanilla PDQ, in Badass Kung Fu Demigods your combat abilities are going to be of paramount importance. It's a game about being walking powerhouses who can tear apart aircraft carriers and smack around kaiju. There's no reason that anyone should be building a "non-combat" character in this game. Sure, you can have characters who are good at things outside of combat, and even characters who aren't as focused on fighting as others...but roles like the classic "skill monkey" or "face", characters who might be helpless in combat but provide other advantages don't really fit in a game where everyone's default powers are enough to smack Superman around.

So, drawing from the same "pool" of resources to buy both combat and non-combat Traits means that characters who want to be the very best (like no one ever was) at fighting are going to be sacrificing their non-combat abilities to do it, while someone trying to develop another style of character could fall into the trap of thinking a non-fighty build is viable only to find their utility Traits don't contribute very much when it's time to power up and fight three-headed space dragons. By dividing the Traits out the gate I can ensure that everyone has the baseline combat competence they need without sacrificing utility and roleplaying Traits. 

It also helps solve an issue I've been wrestling with ever since I started working on Badass Kung Fu Demigods...balancing the utility of combat and non-combat Traits. Part of it is that some combat traits are significantly useful outside of combat (things like speed or reflexes in particular see a lot more use than something like swordfighting outside of the battlefield). It was never a huge deal, but it was significant enough to be a constant headache. Especially since earlier drafts focused on the idea of using Declarations to "lock down" certain Traits, and some of them were much more vulnerable than others. 

Introducing Fighting Styles allows me to cut through a lot of that by simply expanding all combat abilities to roughly the same level. No matter what your fighting style is you can attack, defend or destroy stuff roughly equally well. No swordfighter is going to lose access to their Trait when they're disarmed, super-strong characters don't also have to purchase an armor or toughness trait to allow them to defend themselves and it helps solve the puzzle of using magical or psychic abilities in combat in a more meaningful way (namely by dividing up the combat and non-combat uses of these traits). 

The Form rules (another throwback to the original Battle Royale rules, mapping very closely to it's forms with the exception of the lack of a Flame form) also allow me to do something I've been trying to do for quite some time...introduce some mechanical distinctions in how characters fight. For some games a looser style is fine where the guy with a big hammer fights the same as the little speedster who fights the same as the wizened martial arts master. However, you don't play a game called Badass Kung Fu Demigods without focusing on the combat and since everyone fights it's important to feel like your character fights differently from your fellow PCs and even your opponent. I've tried a lot of different ways to get this to work while keeping the light framework that BAKFDG operates on and I think this is the best implementation so far. 

Fighting Styles are divided up into four different Forms: Might (strong and tough), Flash (fast and agile), Tech (skilled and focused) and Arcane (using magic, mind bullets or similar non-physical combat abilities). The differences aren't huge, but they're enough to make your choice meaningful and even introducing a bit of strategy where fighting the right opponent can make a significant difference in battle. The inclusion of Hybrid forms (combining two of them together) gives even more options. 

I spent a lot longer pontificating on just that one aspect of the new draft, so I think I'll save the rest for a different post...which hopefully will be in just a day or two rather than the previous long wait.