Archive for August, 2011

Storytelling, Kamui-style

One of the main problems I’ve been having with Kamui is the playstyle of the game. It’s not fundamentally different from, say, Shadowrun or D&D. The major complexities are in combat, and non-combat things are generally handled via skill checks and slow-paced dialoguing. While this isn’t necessarily bad, I’ve wanted something that sets Kamui apart from the main competition aside from the mechanics that govern character creation. I think I’ve finally hit on something, although the exact execution of it still eludes me.

There was a post on the Forge Forums that said:

“Imagine a session with all of the tactics and intricacy of a typical D&D combat, but instead of determining that a monster is dead, you determine who now runs the Thieves guild. At this pace, 10 sessions is A LOT of “story.” A whole lot more than you get by painstakingly jumping over every possible hurdle, hour by hour, to feel like you “earned” it.”

A game that treats non-combat activities with the tactics and intricacy of combat. This sort of thing excites me, and I think unconsciously I was building Kamui to be like that, but I didn’t have the framework set out to accomplish that. Now, I already have non-combat skills set up to be just as complex and important as combat skills. Particularly, each skill, regardless of whether it is a ‘combat’ skill or not, has a Technique tree that allows specialization and advanced abilities in the skill. This was done with the intent that if someone wanted to be an architect, they could make it happen with the same amount of play importance and depth as someone who was a sniper or mage, and potentially even make it combat-relevant.

So, why not run important developments in the story, combat or not, like a combat scene?

Think about it. Say there’s a meeting between various officials in a country to decide whether to take their country to war or not. The players are in the meeting, and they are trying to convince the others there that they should not go to war. It’s a very tense scene, and one that has been built up to in the plot for some time.

Most games would resolve this through dialogue (which is good) and singular skill checks interspersed throughout (which is, sometimes, pretty boring). Some other games would have more than that, like D&D4e’s Skill Challenges, in which the characters would need so many successes in a series of skill checks to win, and multiple skills have use in the challenge. That’s good, but also not really “tactical” in nature, since the DM is still arbitrating what those skill checks actually mean.

Now, picture playing this as a combat scene. On my initiative (my character’s turn to speak), I use a Technique from my Command skill that attempts to intimidate an official into agreement. So I have launched my “attack”, and now he defends using his Command skill or some other relevant ability. His Command is very high, and he resists the attack, inflicting no damage to his metaphorical HP. (I would actually be using SP or MP in this situation as HP, and when it is depleted they no longer have influence in the debate.) My ally, being a sneaky bastard, uses his Seduction skill to “get behind” the same official and try to expose a weakness. Since we are effectively “flanking” or “sneak attacking” him, he suffers a penalty to resist this “attack”, as it catches him off guard. Flustered at having to handle multiple opponents at once, he loses his cool and lets loose a tirade of unbecoming remarks. (The ally’s attack hit him hard for a large amount of “damage”.) Seeing that his faux pas has caused considerable embarrassment, he withdraws from the debate. (He is “dead”.)

This continues until a decision is reached. Now, how cool would that be to have character abilities and traits and skills and techniques that all added to your ability to debate? Say our official had a trait called Level-Headed, which made him immune to “flanking attacks” in social combat. What would have happened then? Would he have kept his cool and shrugged off the attacks long enough to issue his own scathing dialogue?

Think about all of the possible applications of this. Anything could be “combat”, provided that the scene in question is tense enough. Obviously, you wouldn’t go into social combat for a casual conversation between friends or even witty bantering between enemies on the battlefield. That’s what singular skill checks and the like are for. Scenes that are important enough to require complex tactical maneuvering would be ones that are plot-important, tense, or even just awesome to see done in that manner. What if my architect character was embroiled in a battle between other architects to determine the outcome of a city’s rebuiliding process? While that wouldn’t be totally interesting for everyone in a standard game, it has so many applications here for everyone in the party! If we had an architect, a thief, and a soldier in the party, who’s to say the thief and soldier can’t be part of an architectural battle? Maybe they could steal floor plans, sabotage equipment, rough up the opposition’s workers, or anything else that could contribute.

The passage of time is also fluid here. This architectural battle could span a year of game time, with a combat round equaling a month. Now the players are on a deadline, adding importance to the maneuvers they take in the battle!

Like I said, I’m not sure how exactly this will happen mechanically. However, I think it’s an interesting enough concept to pursue. Let me know what you think!


Categories: Kamui

insomaticfashion is underway!

Welcome to isf’s devblog! This blog is about detailing the process of making a tabletop game or two, as well as getting the word out about our games. There are two games being made right now.

The first is Kamui, a game about adventuring in a factionalized, futuristic fantasy world that threatens to literally eat itself alive. It has a powerful combat system designed to emulate the over-the-top action seen in games like Devil May Cry and movies like Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. Combined with this is a detailed skill system that treats every skill as a class or profession, with every skill providing trees of abilities and special techniques. The name of the game, Kamui, refers to the mysterious and miraculous energies that allow players the power to change the game as they see fit.

The second is Destiny Quest Adventure Saga: Record of Heroes, a game where players are “Gods of Destiny” who must gather heroes under their banner, then subject them to trials and battles in the hopes they survive long enough to get stronger. Even if they don’t, just grab more heroes from the pool and hope that the new batch of poor sods make the cut. The game is quick enough to play in an hour or less.

Please keep an eye out for new content, and thanks for reading!

-Kyle VP