This is just a general purpose post to talk about Copper Coins! and my current experience writing it. For me the hardest part of writing my own game system is to know when to stop, when to say that there is enough content here to satisfy. While it sometimes extends to the whole system, often times my problem is with the parts we label as “player options.” In most games you want players to have many visible options, so one character can differ from the other. There are extremes of this on either end – you can have very granular, detailed games like GURPS where the options are a cascade, or minimalistic games like the AD&D clone movement games, where the options in the sense we are talking about are limited, and instead you’re supposed to ad hoc them. Stuff I write tends to fall into the middle of those, so there is a lot of territory for “missing elements.”
By missing elements, I mean a group of things that, sitting in the middle of these two extremes, can satisfy the players interested in such a game. Let’s take D&D 4e for example. As a 3.5 player moving on to 4e, I definitely expected Charging rules, because in 3.5 I charged A LOT, since it was a common and easily bolstered and beneficial tactic in that game. Moving on to D&D 4e, I’d expect to be able to charge – to move really fast and smash into a guy, as one single attack action. It’s become an option in D&D melee combat that is simple and expected. If I played a fantasy game, after playing D&D 3.5 and 4e, that’s missing an option to let you charge at someone, I’d probably feel a bit strange. Charging was one of the first options I threw into Copper Coins.
GURPS would certainly have some thing like a charge, and a retroclone probably wouldn’t. But Charge is pretty simple. The problem is with less iconic options, or less popular ones. How do you know what to include, if you’re trying to write not just for your own enjoyment, but hopefully to satisfy others? I suppose I could ask others to tell me what sorts of options they’d like to see, but in my experience that hasn’t worked out well. Usually I ask, and I get the basic responses, like charging. Maybe I’m making a mountain out of a molehill on this one. I’ve decided to just leave it open to error, and that if I forgot anything crucial I’ll work it in later.
Nonetheless, moving to more pleasant news.
I’ve gotten a ton of Copper Coins! written down. As I said before, the skills are all done. One of the things I was hammering my head with is whether or not to make healing dependant on items. I wanted there to be more factors to turning back than just loot. Healing magic always works, because it’s magic. But it’s not as upgradeable – someone with Medicinal Lore and good, high quality (perhaps even magic) medicinal stuff can heal more. But you run out of that. It’s a weird decision – I hope it doesn’t add too much book-keeping, but basically I wanted Mundane Healing to run off of “healing kits” that are varied and upgradeable, and do different things, but you also run out of stuff that’s in your kit. That’s another factor of having to turn back. Healing magic has infinite ammo, but you can only pull the trigger every once in a while. Mundane healing is full auto, ready to fire 24/7, but you can run out of bullets. It’s perhaps a strange balance but I wanted it to be interesting. You could even, perhaps, replenish your healing kit with stuff that you find, perhaps using it as a “low quality” healing kit.
So I kinda met halfway on that. We’ll see how it goes. I didn’t want to make healing fully dependent on magic, and I wanted it to be something more or less external to the character, that can be upgraded with money (to buy stuff) or time (to find stuff) rather than with XP. I’ve always liked the idea of something like Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth’s healing system, but that particular thing (not only do you need items you keep track of, you need different specific items for different specific types of wounds) is too granular even for my tastes in a tabletop rpg. I assume your kit is equipped to deal with things in equal proportion and it just has a certain amount of uses each time it is stocked.
Here’s some screen shots from my document, with the archetypes as they currently stand, and the skill list. Also note that Stunts got changed to Talents. Which is amusing to me because I can’t settle on what to call them anymore. I started with talents, changed to stunts and now changed back to talents. I don’t know anymore.