baldur’s gate

Movement.  Missile.  Melee.  Magic.

Usually in that order for tabletop battles, though Magic tends to wander around.  Whether it’s Warhammer or Battletech, this system is the default game sequence for turn-based games when simultaneous action by both sides is virtually impossible.  D&D was that way too to an extent, with how much you moved determining what could be done with the remainder of the turn, if any.

Why are “rules for rules” important, especially for RPGs?  Because it enables greater player agency in the game.  A card game like “War” has rules, but there are no decisions to be made, so it’s just taking the player along for a ride.  “Monopoly” lets the player make a few decisions, but there’s so much randomness that agency is almost nullified.  You buy and improve the best property you can afford as soon as possible, because to do otherwise is to lose money in the long term.

Rule coherency is more important as the rules become more complex.  “Monopoly” is a simple game:  Roll dice for movement, and where you land has a limited set of results (buy property, pay rent, draw card).  Because of this simplicity, these rules’ interactions do not need to be “internally consistent”;  they can be arbitrary, yet they also do not conflict.  There are no meta-rules needed.  Dice rolling does not interfere with rent, etc.  However, if you were to evolve more rules, or add new branches, these would either need to be organic and consistent, or would require meta-rules to resolve conflicts.

Sneak attacks and attacks of opportunity, or really any combat advantage that applies to thieves/rogues only, are asinine.  Warriors/fighters are supposed to be the epitome of martial combat, so why would a class defined by stealth and finesse have any kind of combat skill not available to a warrior?  Yet another ridiculous legacy from even pre-1e, when fighters were presumed to have some sort of code of honor that made something like a backstab “illegal”.  Now in these days when thieves’ roles are so poorly served that they must be provided with more combat utility, BS/AoO is just a crutch to do so.

The reason we codify a game’s rules is so that we can enjoy again something that we’ve already discovered we enjoy.  It would hardly be fun or efficient if every time we got together with friends to play, we had to invent or re-assemble the rules from scratch.  We’re okay with a few house rule variants here or there, but for the most part, when we sit down to play poker or warhammer or d&d, we like to assume a reliable foundation.  This is one reason why I dislike it when companies reinvent a game under the same name.

Following up on the previous post, BG has similar divisions in the types of mods, but there’s much fewer of certain types, while some are obsessively overrepresented.  Because IE is not friendly to “hardcoded” modding like engine tweaks or new animations, there are a paltry selection of these.  Taimon and Ascension64 gave us the best of the the former, and Erephine, Miloch, and others tried to make the latter easier, but both are still a pain in the ass.  You’d think a game nearly two decades old would be friendlier to mod by now, especially with it still being actively developed.

The original Dawn of War provided a great example of a very talented and diverse modding community.  The first type were the graphics guys.  Higher resolution textures, reworked GUIs, and expanded visual customization options were the most common additions.  The second type were the faction guys.  This was essentially just cloning existing assets and changing them to introduce new factions, but in some cases some original content was produced.  The true difficulty of this type was the sheer amount of work that had to be done;  everything from skinning new and cloned models appropriately, to balancing any new combat mechanics.  The third type were the mechanics and AI guys.  The latter was supremely represented by the Dawn of AI crew, who were so good and thorough that several of the largest factions and mechanics mods incorportated their work.  As for mechanics, these rewrote every bit of stats and combat interactions from the ground up, whether to better represent tabletop rules, or to provide a more complex and interactive decision-making process when building your army.

I’m going to stop using categories and tags.  Even if this becomes a horde of posts, I’m too obsessive to not want to fine tune those things into a infinite mess of incoherency.  The gist has been established:  rpg, crpg, game design, d&d editions, baldur’s gate.

obsolete

Clerics are a(nother) glaring relic of an antiquated past.  The assumptions they force upon a DM, especially post-Greyhawk, are ridiculous and unnecessarily constricting, offering little in return:

  • that active and visible gods are inevitable
  • that they require, need, or even allow worship
  • that they must represent some “aspect” or “role”
  • that differentiating their clerics will depend solely upon a few arbitrary feats or abilities, with the other 90% remaining identical
  • that clerics are automatically adventurers and not bureaucrats

1e was somewhat excusable, exchanging freedom for strict roles.  2e said “screw that” and abandoned both.

It’s nice to see some real innovation coming into some mods.  One person is even going to use Alignment as a target identifier, something that should’ve happened before SCS was written.  Maybe the EE SCS-rewrite crew will adopt this tactic and just redo that mod from the ground up.