Thursday, December 10, 2009

Two More Cents On Game Design...

Good Morning, All:

In reading through Swords & Wizardry, I had one of those simple little "Eureka!" moments that people get when things fall into place for them. This may sound obvious, and indeed it is, but somehow, it just hit me. In reading the class descriptions, I noted that each class had its own single saving throw value. After remembering how saves were done "back in the day", rolling under the number on a d20, it occurred to me that one could easily use some simple math to convert each saving throw progression into a bonus that is added to the d20 roll, and compared against a target number/difficulty class of 20. The observation had been born of my experiences with 3E, but what hit me was the realization that this was probably how 3E saves came about. Mathematically, saves had thus remained the same in concept during the transition from 2E to 3E (aside from categories, of course), and then further adjusted by varying DCs.

I suppose the Combat Algorithm post over at Delta's D&D brought the convolutions to mind, and this simple realization cemented the concept in my head. Just as this was the math that lead to Ascending AC as an option to D&D's original Descending AC, I saw this pattern elsewhere, and spent a good five minutes reviewing Swords & Wizardry just looking for similar evolutions and admiring the elegance behind the D20 System, all made possible by using basic math skills to bring everything to a single defining Core Mechanic. Like most gamers, I took readily to the Core Mechanic of 3E without really giving much of a thought as to why. Now, almost ten years later, it dawned on me as to the exact reasons why.

Like I said, it was something simple and obvious, but when it suddenly comes together and settles into your head, you develop a new appreciation for a new perspective. As a game designer, I love it when I have those realizations and can bring them together in a simple yet elegant game design. When that happens, you get an internally consistent system that lends itself to intuitive mechanics once the core concepts are understood. I think that's what makes some games easier to learn than others, and what separates the Swords & Wizardry systems of the world from the World of Synnibar rule sets.

Two More Cents On Game Design,

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