Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Class: The Warden

Silly antics, nonsensical plots, and a tendency to dive head-first into trouble describes the majority of RPG gaming sessions. While definitely fun, sometimes one voice of reason is the only thing stopping the party from imploding in on themselves. The Warden class aims to be that level-headed security that every group needs.

At face value, the Warden fulfills the classic "tank" roll, soaking up damage and having the general purpose of surviving. They can spend their Luck to gain extra health, making the Warden one of the simpler, easier classes to play (much like a fantasy Barbarian in other games). However, their skill trees allude to their true purpose. First, the "spot" skill path allows the warden to protect the party even before they are in danger. Failing that, the "block" skill path allows them to prevent harm from ever coming to themselves or their friends.

Combining the idea of a Warden with any of six callings in Hostargo is a fun design space. I've taken the normally utility or offensive special abilities and warped them, trying to answer the question of "how do we protect someone with this". You get some standard but fun things like bubble shields and living armor, but also some unique twists, such as sharing Luck, shouts that give your allies reactions, or even brief rifts in space-time in order to avoid threats.

Players who enjoy well-informed strategy and tactics will like the Warden class. They can control the chaos of a normal game by protecting their allies from threats, even when the party may have put themselves in that position in the first place.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Class: The Sage

Roleplaying "intelligence" has always been a tricky prospect, when the players themselves have either greater or possibly less intelligence than the characters they are trying to play. After digging into this issue, including reading my favorite blog post on the subject, Smarter Intelligence Checks, I've found that it's not only possible to do this well, but also to make it interesting. There is untapped potential in this area, which I hope to capture in Hostargo's newest class: the Sage.

Every character should be able to view, explore, and inspect the world they live in, giving the player a window into its detailed workings. The more alive the world, the richer, more immersive experience the player receives. But we know that some players lean towards being more "explorers" than others. The Sage aims to fulfill this player style, giving them more and better tools for digging into their world.

The class's role is defined as information acquisition. This means they get more information about the quests, characters, events, battles, mysteries, and puzzles that they encounter. To help with this, they have a general knowledge skill tree that includes topics like politics (to learn about the city's governing powers), forensics (for helping with investigation scenes), and Memory (the world's magic system, which they can know even if they do not use it themselves).

Luck is spent on class special abilities, and when the Sage does so, they have a sudden realization about something in the game. Depending on how much they've upgraded this Observer ability, the GM is forced to reveal some vulnerability, clue, or potentially even motive about a creature, character, or event. While this can be viewed as a simple "hint system", it truly is a class power that only a character like Sherlock Holmes or Doctor Strange might possess. It also encourages teamwork, since knowing is only half the battle.

I am excited to GM for players who really embrace the Sage. Not only will the class cater to their play style like no class has before it, but it will also force me as the game creator to answer a lot of highly detailed questions about the Hostargo game world.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Class: The Reaper

Hostargo aims to be different than the classic "holy trinity" of RPG design, offering players a variety of classes that - as far as I know - haven't had their core concepts utilized in such a way. Between the obfuscation-master Duster and the ever-mobile Vessel, there's hopefully a new opportunity available for even the most veteran of RPGers. However, Hostargo also aims to provide a class for every player style, and as a tactics-focused game, one of those play styles is simply "the action gamer".

The Reaper is a standard "DPS" class; there's no hiding that. Attack or damage focused characters are pretty much a necessary option for any combat-focused game. What we can do though, is use the opportunity to make some of Hostargo's special combat mechanics shine.

Weapon skills are a generic tree that any character can progress in. So for the Reaper we offer an array of different skills that still fit the "assassin" playstyle. These include poison use, such as sleep, illness, or hallucination, and security, for getting into the places where an assassin needs to go. Standard? Yes. Familiar? You bet. But this gets the player thinking outside of just maxing their weapon skill by including progression options that help out the party in other ways.

Critical hits are also a standard RPG idea, but in Hostargo, any time a player "Aces" on a combat roll, they get to choose an Ace effect. The player chooses from a delicious menu of extra effects such as moving their target, crippling a limb, or even hitting another target. Because of this core mechanic, Reapers can have abilities that play off of that idea, adding to the menu or even improving effects that are already there. In addition, the class's core progression tree includes options for spending Luck (the in-game meta resource) to automatically score a critical hit.

While not built into the class's core skills and abilities, there are plenty of interesting opportunities for the Reaper when paired with one of the game's six "Callings" (which all characters do). Tech Adepts can hot-swap weapon mods, Animancers can enchant their weapons with magical effects, and socialites can stop the whole show by forcing the enemy to surrender.

While the Reaper is certainly one of the least unique Hostargo classes, it is still an exciting one to design. It dives deep into some of the game's exciting combat features, such as critical hits, weapon mods, and battle morale. Not everything needs to be "different" after all - sometimes you just want to shoot things!