Dust Watch: Dabble And Dip

Dust Watch is a game that attempts to emulate a classic D&D experience for a solo adventure as well as a party-based adventure, and part of this will be obvious from the game design.

Unlike pretty much all of the D&D mechanics-modeling video games, Dust Watch is a solo endeavor-one does not encounter companions, because the Watchmen are too few and desperate to send a whole team for every last thing.

In this way, Dust Watch draws inspirations more from roguelikes-the player has to have a way to do everything in a single character. A locked door may require a Stealth roll (Stealth doubles as the general larceny skill), but it could also be opened with a Hardiness check.

However, Dust Watch is class-based, while my main roguelike inspiration, GearHead, is point based. Unlike traditional D&D or most D&D based systems, however, Dust Watch’s classes are more of “advancement packages” than a full-featured class.

What this means is that characters will have many classes-Features, the equivalent of Feats from everyone’s favorite* game, are gained at certain levels in classes, and tend to be a simple numerical bonus. Advancing as a Tracker will decrease the damage you take from environmental encounters (falling in a sinkhole, getting caught out in the sun too long, and such) through a special means, while advancing as a Soldier may give you a general damage boosting Feature.

For balance’s sake, classes are point-based, meaning that theoretically characters in Dust Watch could be built from points, allowing maximum customization. This will be an option for the pen-and-paper game, but would be clunky in StoryNexus (one thing I learned from Orchestra was that character advancement could eat through half of a person’s Actions in a relatively short time).

On the other hand, there is a Cap applied. This is strictly for solo adventures and StoryNexus, because of the nature of the game; in a GM-controlled setting, there is no need for this cap; the competition between players encourages them to specialize, and as such it’s not such a big deal. Players who bring a character from a larger campaign into a soloing environment will be forced to diversify to meet all a Watchman’s challenges, while those with the luxury of working in a group face larger challenges and need to work as a team, though GM’s who allow groups with asynchronous XP may wish to impose caps to prevent people from overpowering the rest of the party with a single character.

This Cap is the maximum modifier applied to certain rolls-as a general rule this will be a little lower for abilities like Attack Accuracy, which are given in some classes more frequently than others and would allow someone to form an overpowered character (for instance, a character who has the Inheritor Starter Class, Soldier 10, and Tracker 10 would be capped at 10 Attack Value on the Story Nexus game [subject to change], despite the fact that he would receive a uncapped 16; 1 for being an Inheritor, 10 for being a Soldier, and 5 for being a Tracker).

*D&D and its derivatives may not, indeed, be everyone’s favorite game.

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