Daring Adventures: Keep it Simple
I like systems that at their core are simple, especially when we are talking about cinematic games where story is important. There can be catches and twists, but often the simpler an engine is, the faster it plays. The faster it plays the more things happen during a session. For example, if you run a strategy focused grid based system a combat can take hours to resolve. Although I’m not naming any names, I’m sure every experienced gamer can name at least one example. So the hours that were spent on that one combat leave less time for you to get into the meat of the story, or satisfy your player’s goals.
Combat in Daring Adventures has the goals of being capable of swift resolution, offering choices and options to the players, feeling dangerous, and allows the players to pile on to their plate as much as they want to attempt in any given round. There is no hard limit to the amount of actions a player may attempt during one round (with the exception of some movement options) that’s up to the Players and the GM. One way in which this shines is in the use of modifiers. Most game systems have discrete penalties for everything under the sun. If you go down the line and tick off the boxes it can take you a significant amount of time to tally up your penalties before you can even roll. Not so in this game.
You suffer your worst penalty, and add on a small increase for each other penalty arrayed against you with one category of exception. What category is that? Self-inflicted penalties. If you spread yourself too thin, it affects you separately from environmental or situational concerns. If you are told that you have a range penalty of -4, a lighting penalty of -2 and a weather penalty of -2, you know that your total is -6. You take the highest penalty and increase it in magnitude once for each other penalty you have to account for. The difference in how this flows is that a player could count out the total penalty on their fingers while reaching for the dice. It doesn’t even matter whether the weather penalty is -1 or -3. It’s less than -4, so it just adds 1. Simple.
So you do this on both sides of 0, add together the final results and any self-inflicted penalties you have, and that’s it. That’s your total modifier to the roll, and you are on your way to resolving the action.
Another way the game tries to keep things simple is through the use of prefigured characteristics. I use Defenses, prefigured Initiative Bonuses, and calculated Speed ratings to minimize calculations during play and looking things up continuously. It would be just as easy for me as the GM to say, NPC A rolls an attack against PC B. Roll your Agility to dodge, but it slows things down. It also doesn’t take into account whether PC B wants to concentrate on dodging enough to put effort into it or not. Yet, I also didn’t like systems where your defense is static and can never change. Yes that plays extremely quickly in practice, but then it becomes a robotic slugfest. Not what I was after at all. So, we have a Dodge Defense, which is based on your character’s Agility score, and if you want to spend an action, and potentially give yourself a self-inflicted penalty, you can concentrate on Dodging to increase your score.
Likewise, I could just say everybody makes an Agility or Wits roll to determine Initiative Order, but then everybody who has been away from the game for a while is going to ask, how do I roll initiative again? This works in some games, where initiative is based on a set of skills and can vary between situations. However here, having a quick calculation that only needs to be redone if you increase one of two specific attributes, means that I can acknowledge a character’s natural capabilities from either reflexes or quick thinking without forcing players to even think about it during the game. I’ve heard plenty of bad things about games that use lots of figured stats. As long as the stats serve a purpose, I can’t see how anything that speeds up play is bad.
Looking at Dr. Odd again you can see that he has wildly varying Defense scores. His Parry is the base of 9, while his Will is 13. He’s not likely to be cowed by an average person.
The calculation is also very simple. Each Defense is 9 plus your associated Attribute: Dodge (Agility), Parry (Strength), Savvy (Wits), Vigor (Body) and Will (Spirit). Likewise Initiative is a sum of Agility and Wits, although negatives do not count against you, and Speed is a sum of a species base value, Agility and Strength, again where negatives do not count against you. Toughness and Health are similar calculations although I’ll talk about those when I talk about damage.