1-800 Regime Change: Thresholds are fun! Part 1: Damage and Stability

I’m currently working on 1-800 Regime Change, a game that attempts to emulate action movie fare in a mercenary setting where the players typically work to overthrow regimes, as the name may imply. It’s a tabletop game, which requires me to do a lot of design that is based around minimizing the difficulty of playing the game as well as creating a fun, balanced game.

One of the biggest gripes I’ve heard from my players when I run a game of Shadowrun is that certain things aren’t fun because there are too many modifiers applied, there’s a threshold they have to meet, and it’s just too confusing for them, especially for, say, hacking and talking. As such, I’m designing 1-800 Regime Change to operate in a very different way.

For starters, I’m building combat around a two threshold system-Mobility and Stability. These are the weapon’s “accuracy” for firing, and serves as a cap to the attacker’s rolls to hit. This is important because of how damage is calculated-each person has a Damage Threshold and if they take more damage (which is directly added to by accuracy in excess of the defender’s dodge) than their threshold allows they will take a Hit, which is essentially HP. This cinematic system allows people to shrug off crappy shots or the like even if they hit, contributing to the action movie feel that I’m going for. Automatic weapons will do an additional Hit for points of difference between the attacker’s roll and the defender’s dodge/cover/appropriate defense roll, so if you fire a sub-machine gun until it clicks and get so and so many points more than the defender gets on your roll (probably 1:1 for hammer until click, 3:1 for full auto, and 5:1 for burst fire, capped by the number of bullets shot). This means that if you cap at a result of 20 to hit, as could happen with a relatively stable submachine gun at the maximum fire rate, and you go over, the defender determines how many they get hit by by how far under they roll. If the defender rolls fifteen, which would be a relatively crappy roll, they would get hit by not one but five shots, since the defender wins ties.

Damage would then be determined for each shot; if the SMG does 5 damage per hit and the defender has a damage threshold of 8, only the first bullet would hit, and it would deal 5+5 (margin of success) damage, giving it one hit because it is not an additional half of the target’s damage threshold over. The other bullets would hit, but do no damage (I might replace this with a stacking tree, after testing the current one). If the defender’s Damage Threshold were 4 or lower, however, they would take 3 Hits from the opening shot (10=4+2+2+2, ties favor defender, so the normal and then half and half again) and another four Hits for the bullets they scarf down afterward (which cannot currently do more damage via accuracy).

I’m not sure I like this system, however. It works well for theatrical fights against lots of minions with low Damage Thresholds, meaning that splitting up hits (something that uses the mobility threshold I’ll touch on later) could wipe out a whole horde of 1 Hit expendable baddies.

Similarly, using a weapon that you are firing to get maximum effect is better-unless your weapon skill is nigh deific, you will most likely want to use burst fire on all but the jumpiest weapons, and since weapons can be configured very minutely (1-800 Regime Change is, after all, a game inspired by action movies) you can very easily build a stable but immobile weapon based on components or modifications, or you can build a character who gets bonuses to weapon stability.

But that is a topic for another day. I’ll see you all then.

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