Streamlining Hammercalled

I’ve been hard at work on Hammercalled recently. The real goal of this is to make up for some flaws I’ve noticed in playtesting, and moving toward the actual design objectives of the game. One of the problems was obvious over-complexity, and I’ve already talked about how I handle that in combat, but I’m going to be talking about some other changes I’ve been making.

First, I’ve shortened the core rules section from ~1000 words to ~270. Some of that comes from adopting a Symbaroum-esque approach to NPCs, where the GM and NPCs don’t roll, merely providing a modifier to their opponents (and, honestly, NPCs often don’t even do that). I don’t have examples in yet, so we’ll see this bloat back up a little, but it’s going to be far from what it was.

I also changed how Margins of Success are handled, changing them to function like Eclipse Phase where it’s a straight blackjack system (i.e. you want to roll as high as possible but stay under your Target Number), and using the number directly instead of converting it to another number.

This skips a mathematical process (that can be added back in on specific use cases).

I changed how Professions work, which adds slightly more complexity to them but also changes some really stupid things about how it worked. You no longer are required to choose specializations, and instead have a breadth value that determines how much wiggle room the GM should give with regards to your Profession. I also renamed this to Specialization, to avoid making it look like this had to be a job title.

Derived attributes were basically cut down a lot. We still have three defensive thresholds, but we cut down a handful of others. Wear is now part of the Gear rules and is more dependent on the Gear itself than the character (barring a Talent that improves this). Initiative remains more or less untouched. Character attributes no longer determine damage reduction, nor melee damage bonus. This is to keep from having too many floating variables in those things, which were a major flaw with combat previously.

Talents have been reworked, so that there are fewer attribute changing talents and more crunchy talents that change other rules. Since these only impact a few characters, I’m happy to have them, since they are not going to slow down the game for everyone else.

The fact that many of the simple +X talents have been removed has resulted in them being shunted to Augmentations, to make the Gear table more interesting and allow another source of differentiation (instead of forcing people to work with a large array of talents and few talent points.

I’ve done away with gear origin. It might come back during the later stages, or it might stay gone. It was a major source of confusion and complexity, and I don’t feel it added that much other than a small amount of distinction and the ability to have bad options. It also produced obligate talents that everyone was taking, which didn’t make characters diverse.

The distinctions drawn between melee and ranged weapons reduce the complexity of both categories separately, and they are set up to have a fair amount of overlap. Weapons only have a damage attribute, though they can take an Accurate quality and have RoF qualities that can indicate how often they are used.

Tools and Augmentations have likewise been made distinct, with Tools being active use bonus providers and Augmentations being passive, sometimes providing a broad bonus, sometimes emulating a Talent, and sometimes giving extraordinary abilities. Tools focus on expanding skill use, while Augmentations focus on providing new capabilities or improving Attributes.

There have been other changes, but they’re probably too far and few between to discuss. Character creation is losing a couple steps, but neither were major or that important to begin with.

Still, it’s exciting.

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