Thursday, 28 March 2013

Cleaner, Simpler, Smaller!!

I am the Warden!!

Yesterday was the start of revisions for Killshot Reloaded's options chapter. You know those days when you get started on a large chapter/project and it starts with complete unawareness of just how much of a difference your work will bring? That was yesterday.

One of the primary goals for Reloaded is to create a cleaner version of the game while simultaneously allowing assassins and Directors more flexibility to take the game and run with it. While making a post on G+ about the process, it occurred that I've probably run close to 50 jobs for Killshot and various recent offshoots of the Optional System since it's creation and publication. In that time, I've noticed how players have translated and interpreted their options, listened to their opinions, and have now set a goal to use those opinions and concepts in mind for the new edition.

What I did not expect was just how improved these options have become. I hate putting it that way, because it instantly comes across as if the game was broken. And I hate saying THAT because the original edition of Killshot is by no means perfect (need I point out the major faux pas of having an option and skill both named "Survival").

Perhaps a demonstration is in order, yes? This is the original version of the Alert option from Killshot: An Assassin's Journal

Alert [Automatic, Focus, Trained (2 points)]
A life of constantly on the edge instills a sixth sense for danger. Your mind and body cannot fully relax, the slightest snap or faintest whiff of deodorant in the breeze makes you grab your weapon. This option grants you the ability to react quickly to danger and not fall victim like all the others.
Automatic Option: When you declare the Alert option on your Team’s turn, you add +2d8 to all opposing Sense rolls until the end of the current series. This roll cannot tell you any information regarding the specifics of the danger, only that you and/or any Teammates are threatened.
Focus: Hunters gain this option without spending training points.
Range: 5 Move options
Trained: You must have spent training points to gain this option. For an additional 4 training points you can sustain this option during your sleep. Using it this way doesn't grant any additional option dice but it does not expire at the end of the current series.
You can also spend 3 additional training points to increase the range by 5 Move options.

Now here's the updated version as of yesterday for Killshot Reloaded.

Defensive, Trained (3 points)
A life of constantly living on the fringes of society, wanted for dead by numerous enemies and officials, instills a sixth sense for danger. Or paranoia, whatever. When you use this option, you are making a point to keep a keen ear and a sharp eye for anything suspicious, ready to pounce if it happens.
Defensive Option: When you declare the Alert option, you can use the following trigger if any opponents in range do not succeed with at least a Critical Hit on any active rolls attempting to approach you in secrecy.
Trigger: You steal the Edge and automatically gain a bonus option to any automatic option performed as soon as the trigger goes off.
Range: The opponent must be within 5 Move option of your current position.
Trained: You can gain this option by spending 3 training points. 

Aside from some minor presentation changes, Alert is now a defensive option allowing a character opportunity to not just improve their opposed Sense rolls, but to set a trigger instead and launch into action unless your sneaky opponents succeed on their own Sense roll with at least 3 hits (a Critical Hit).   This revision is based on the repeated confusion when it comes to the Alert option: many players assume the +2d8 bonus from the original version was a default available to them at all times instead of being the reward in exchange for using an automatic option. Once players found out the truth, they barely used it because of that expectation. This does not mean Alert's original version was wrong, but that it wasn't speaking to players.

It's an easy area to miss or push aside during the playtesting phase of any game, particularly when you don't have the mass access to playtesters prior to release like Wizards of the Coast does with D&D Next. The original Alert option worked just fine for me and for the game, but now it's time to ramp things up a notch for players. That's why the new option costs one extra training point and is no longer automatically available to Hunters. (In fact, all focus only provide one option to keep them balanced and fair across the board.)

Alert is just the beginning. Nearly every option has come out remarkably cleaner and exciting thus far and I'm only half way through the original chapter. There's new focus options provided for the new focuseseses provided to match with the new themes and some original options have been switched out for traits (such as Dual Strike, now allowing you to use another option with a two-weapon attack). 

I can't wait to show off this game to potential backers. When the time comes, I'm going to provide an instant text-only PDF version of the game to new backers and have been considering a small text-only rules chapter free PDF for potential backers to read over before agreeing to put down their hard earned cash. 

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