Saturday, May 10, 2014

Hero's Journey: Dice and XP

There are a lot of rules in Hero's Journey, which I'm sure doesn't surprise anyone. There are a lot of rules in most RPGs, after all. And while we can't share all of them with you all at once, we can talk about some of the basics that most games have in common: dice and character advancement!

We've probably been asked what dice engine Hero's Journey will be using more times than any other question since we announced the game, wich is pretty easy to understand. Gamers love their dice, and we all have collections of every polyhedral shape known to humankind. We've had people ask if they'll be able to just use the six-sided dice that came with their Risk game a few years ago, if they'll finally get to bust out that custom d7 that's been sitting in their bag for years waiting for its moment, if they're going to need to barter their furniture for custom dice sets or if (usually spoken by our own players with palpable anxiety) their current collection of three hundred d10 is now obsolete.

So we can answer all those questions now pretty easily: Hero's Journey will use ten-sided dice for all its rolls. (Sorry, d7 die-hards.) We made this decision for a few reasons, but the most important were that choosing a single die shape instead of a variety is easier on the wallet and simpler to keep track of, and that while we did consider using six-sided dice for their ubiquity in board games and the ease with which most players can get them, we wanted a larger probability range than only one through six. So d10 it is!

Oddly enough, one of the most popular follow-up questions has been, "Okay, but how does XP work?" Experience points - or purchasing points, or skill-ups, or whatever a given RPG happens to call them - are one of the staples of the RPG playing experience as a method of measuring character advancement, of trying to ensure that players are rewarded for their time investment with new skills, and of making sure that a group of players all remain at roughly the same level of ability and power.

Hero's Journey will indeed have experience points, but we're hoping to make them as simple and streamlined an affair as possible. We've never liked dealing with XP in games that have a large amount of XP bloat, where powers cost escalatingly more points until you're sitting around at the table saying, "Well, I have 173 XP saved up, let me try to figure out in what way that's divisible to get me some decent skills." We're going to stick with a less-is-more philosophy: small amounts of XP, fixed costs for skills rather than increasing ones, and hopefully not too much math for those tender of brains.

We're also working hard to build a model for character advancement that is less about XP amounts and more about a character's progress and skills; we want Heroes to become more powerful the more they gain new abilities and the more legendary they become as the main characters of their own myths, rather than just rewarding players for showing up often enough to take the quickest path from level to level. It's hard to expound on that past the point of vagueness because of all the State Secrets involved, but it'll encourage characters who are effective in many exciting ways and discourage min-maxing that leaves characters crippled, and we're pretty excited about it.

So that's our brief and tantalizingly unspecific update for today. We promise we're hard at work, and you'll get to hear more (better) spoilers next time!