More updates and decisions

Recent Playtests
Like I said I was busy pretty much all weekend, but I did squeeze in two playtests. Both pitted the Drylands United Cattle Company against The Lost Platoon, and both were Level 2 Posses. The table setup remained the same for each match with a large building to the east and a thick scattering of hills elsewhere. I took photos and recorded Activations for the first games, so expect another battle report coming soon. The second game was a rematch more than anything, so I just powered through it without a turn by turn account, which helped since I could get a real test of play time (the game took 27 minutes).

Decided on Initiative and Resolution
Anyways I think the two playtests helped me decide on two big rule issues I had wondered about: Initiative and simultaneous resolution. I’ve decided to go with a new Initiative system and to leave combat resolution as it is (so if you kill someone they are removed instantly, instead of at the end of the turn). The Initiative system is similar to before, except instead of rolling at the start of each turn you roll off at the start of each Activation. This helps numerically unbalanced teams since you can compare the number of un-Activated entities on an ongoing basis, instead of once at the start of the turn where it can be out of date.

Damage Reducing Armor? MMC for Ranged in Melee?
I did come up with two other possible big changes:

  • Make AR reduce damage instead of miss chance? Downside is reworking some of the numbers and mechanics, upside is you don’t have to check with the opponent when trying to hit, it’s basically My Skill + My Modifiers instead of Your Modifiers, ya know? +1 AR for 10 IP would need to cost more though, as would armor. I don’t want to get into a bunch of 0 damage hits though.
  • Test using MMC instead of RMC for ranged weapons in melee.

Damage Reducing Armor?
I’ve considered the first point before during the long process of choosing what exactly Armor means. Inititally there was no Ranged Miss Chance and Armor was the value you had to roll against (it was higher back then). But then with RMC and MMC I went to a modifier approach where it simply makes the target harder to hit. A lot of people have qualms with this approach in modern/sci-fi games, since arguably (well, technically) having a kevlar vest doesn’t mean you won’t get hit, it means the bullet won’t do as much damage.
So now I’m considering whether Armor should be damage reducing. Aside from all the flavor reasons, the main upside I see is it would further streamline the combat process. Right now the real world implementation of the rules goes like this:

Player A: “Alright I’m shooting, *measures distance* 18″, so that’s Long Range. You’re in Cover, so -1 damage. What’s your Armor?”
Player B: “*checks sheet* Just 1 for this guy”
Player A: “Okay so RMC of 6, two mods which means 8+ to hit. *rolls and high fives because Dinosaur Cowboys is so much fun*”

The second line above is my concern. Having to check with your opponent to do your OWN shooting is kind of a bother. In a sense it helps involve your target in the attack, but it’s also kind of a hassle since you can’t just independently figure out what you need to roll.

Anyways in terms of mechanics I don’t think much would need to change. The IP cost to increase Armor would probably go up a tiny bit (12 instead of 10 most likely). Otherwise the rules are pretty close to what is needed.

The main downside I’m worried about is 0 damage attacks. Nothing is more frustrating to a player than rolling a bunch of dice, hitting something, and then doing nothing against it. I mean the opponent is happy, but it just feels like a wasted shot. Right now the damage per shot seems pretty high, so reducing it by 1 or 2 probably wouldn’t be too bad. Also it’s extra math, which can be annoying…although I can’t say TOO much against that since Cover and Elevation both modify damage, and if they do it why can’t Armor?

Definitely something to playtest.

MMC for Ranged in Melee?
Right now I’m having a tough time striking a balance between ranged and melee. I flat out don’t want melee to be more powerful than ranged, because no one in the wild west won a draw by punching the other guy at one hundred paces. Melee does have some benefits, like you aren’t going to have a bunch of modifiers to hassle with, the attacks are normally fairly damaging for the price, etc.

Dinosaurs also factor into this, since you are basically obligated to push forward and get to grips with the enemy to be effective, so Melee NEEDS to be considered. And after running across the board (3 or 4 feet of space to cover sometimes), shedding HP and maybe even having some casualties, the last thing you want is to get stomped in close combat by someone shooting you in the face.

So to that end I’m considering changing how guns/ranged weapons in melee work. Currently there is a +1 Miss Chance to Ranged in Melee, so it’s a bit harder to hit your target. What I’m considering instead is using MMC in place of RMC for ranged weapons in melee.

This feels a bit more realistic, and would also mean those 5 RMC/8 MMC snipers wouldn’t be so hot in close combat. But it opens up ranged weapons as viable melee weapons, whereas right now they aren’t. I mean if you’re using MMC anyways, why not save money and get a gun and shoot as you advance and still get to use it in close combat? So I’d probably have to leave the +1 penalty in there.

I’m lukewarm about this idea since it starts to blur the line between what exactly RMC/MMC stand for, and whether they are interchangable or not.

Smaller Changes
As usual I have a growing list of TODO items based on my recent playtesting and brainstorming. Completed items are retroactively marked with a bold asterick.

  • * Implement new Initiative system in rules (basically roll at the start of each turn, move based on the current numbers in the sense of 2vs1, 3vs1, etc.)
  • * Simultaneous deaths won’t be used with the new Initiative system.
  • * Reload values were decreased (eg. 3×1 to 2×1), may still need tweaking. I’ve had 1 Reload over 3 games, when I’d rather it be closer to 1 per game, so yeah, basically everything got the Reload value decreased by 1.
  • * Do a “Setting up a Game” section under Game Overview, with details on non-standard IP/$ values, table size, etc.
  • * Lasso / Wrangle / Rope ‘Em attack (inspired by the huge amount of rope work in The Valley of Gwangi). New attack that can only be used while Mounted. 1-6″ range, 1A-0D with Stopped special ability (target cannot move during their next Activation).
  • * Make a note of how to fill out the Posse roster (X of Y IP instead of just X IP, etc.)
  • * Quick Reference sheet (if enough tables exist to make it worthwhile)
  • * Try Posse Roster with custom western fonts used elsewhere in the doc

Anyways that was a long post, but yeah, keeping on with the rules improvements towards that wonderous v1.0.

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