What Hammercalled Needs

With velotha’s flock winding down (rather, still in fairly active development/maintenance, but not requiring 100% of my time), I want to take a moment to return to the Hammercalled Roleplaying Game and talk about what it needs as a game.

I’ve completed one playtesting session of Hammercalled so far, and it immediately went under really heavy revisions and hasn’t yet been ready (because I was bad about working on it, and I should fess up to that since I am trying to reinvent myself and stop leaving projects incomplete).

It wasn’t that the core game was bad, it’s that I needed to change some of the decisions I was making along the way.

Hammercalled is set up as a d100-based system, and will remain such. The core mechanics themselves are pretty much set in stone (Roll an attribute, add a profession bonus, add gear, add/remove situational modifiers).

With that said, there are three things that absolutely need to be done immediately and are my top priority as we move into March.

First, I want to overhaul Hammercalled’s gear system. I want to make more ways to create distinctive weapons (and more ways for these weapons to matter), create more meaningful gear distinctions, and make actually creating and using gear more simple and less obtuse.

This involves switching from three categories of gear to at least five (melee weapon, ranged weapon, armor, tool, augment), but since this is making it so that each category is more clearly defined it will reduce the complexity of each of these parts and hopefully make the game more accessible.

The second thing is to work on the setting. I feel like Hammercalled could be a really appealing setting, as it takes a lot of science-fantasy elements and brings them together—the system itself is built to generally allow for setting-agnostic play, but that’s no reason to not have a setting.

Traditionally I have considered worldbuilding to be one of my strengths, and it’s something I tend to get the most positive comments on: 90-95% of the feedback I get on my design stuff has been positive, though I’m not conceited enough to take that as a sign of mastery (rather, I think that people don’t give my work a whole lot of time, which I’m hoping is just based on the fact that I haven’t breached that professionalism barrier that I plan to pass with Hammercalled).

The really important thing for Hammercalled, I feel, is to give the players a world that feels like a place for wish fulfillment and imagination, a universe where anything can happen if the people involved are sufficiently dedicated (as opposed to most of my other works, which are pretty closed; I did make a mini-game over the weekend that focuses on childish whimsy, but that’s a different affair entirely).

A final thing I want to do for Hammercalled is create emergent applications of the systems, instead of building bolted-on mechanics. Combat right now is a mess, and I think that both of the systems as they stand might be due for scrapping or an overhaul: the long-form combat was built when Hammercalled was envisioned, originally, as a squad-tactics focused game. That has fallen by the wayside, and as much as I like nitty-gritty combat with loads of little details, I don’t think it’s actually something that I can design within the space of the game and still have the other complex systems really run smoothly.

The short-form combat, on the other hand, has been designed with compatibility for the long-form combat in mind. I may decide to keep this pretty much as is, but I suspect some overhauls will be due.

The magic mechanics are another part of the game that I think may fall victim to this, but they’re even more nebulous right now and are as such not worth discussing because of how much they may change or solidify over time.

Hammercalled is designed to work with one-sided character sheets, so there’s a little bit of impetus to simplify the design (of course, extended character sheets are always an option, but I want a functional character to fit on one, and extending the sheet should be for more details, not new mechanics).

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