The Forge Forums

General Forge Forums => Game Development => Topic started by: bosky on September 12, 2011, 01:52:23 PM



Title: Dinosaur Cowboys skirmish game
Post by: bosky on September 12, 2011, 01:52:23 PM
(http://dinosaurcowboys.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/logo.png)
Hi, first post here. I've been developing a game for a while now and it feels pretty solid and playable by this point. I haven't had much luck getting ideas or feedback from the vast internet community, but this site seems to be great for helping just that.

Basically the setting is dinosaurs and cowboys. The idea came about when I was writing Nanowrimo in 2009, and thinking of cowboys riding t-rexes, herding triceratops, etc. really sparked some childish glee in me. I have some background information of WHY there are cowboys and dinosaurs, but more or less the year is 2285, society collapsed and was rebuilt, and dinosaurs escaped an "underground vault" at Yellowstone. The science doesn't really have to fit, all I wanted was an excuse to have laser six-shooters.
Originally I designed it as a rules-light RPG with skirmish elements, and then after playtesting a few campaigns I realized the system was doing neither very well. So instead I dropped the majority of the RPG elements and went pretty much pure skirmish. This was back in November 2010, and since then I've been a busy bee crafting rules, stat sheets, etc. I'm now at the playtesting stage, and thankfully the game is feeling finished enough that most of my playtests are just "plays", where I realize I'm not changing much between each game and instead just enjoying playing it.

So anyways I would really appreciate some review of the rules. I know just asking for that and posting a 50 page PDF isn't the best idea on this forum, so let me break down some of the mechanics and problem areas I see.

The game is based on two Posses (composed of some variant of 1 Leader, 2-4 Members, 1 Dinosaur) fighting each other, either in a straight up fight or an objective based game. The action takes place over a tabletop populated with the usual smattering of hills and trees and so on. Every Posse member has their own statline, including traits (to make them unique) and weapons. The idea is Posse building is very flexible. You can improve your different statistics using a limited pool of Improvement Points.

For combat I'm super duper happy with the system I've devised. Each weapon has an Attack and Damage value, like 4-1. 4 Attacks in this case would mean rolling 4D12, and you try to roll above a target number. That number is based on the Ranged Miss Chance of the character who's doing the attack, with a base of 8. So you'd roll the 4D12 and count any dice above 8 as a success, then add the Damage value (1 in this case). This means you can have weapons that only roll 1D12 but add a bunch of Damage (like a 1A-7D weapon). Then the usual tricks like Critical Hits (count any natural 12 as 2 hits). "Fumbles" (natural 1s) are how Reloading is done, so if the weapon has a Reload Value of 2x1 (two 1s) and you roll two or more 1s in your attack, the gun is empty and needs to be reloaded. The nice part of this is I can easily apply modifiers (+1 Attack, for example, or harder to hit by modifying the Ranged Miss Chance), and my favorite of all is being able to use the system for both ranged AND melee combat.

Anyways dinosaurs add their own unique element to the game, plus the usual skirmish "trappings" like initiative, movement, bravery tests, etc.

So some of the problems:
- No art (yet?). For a while I was considering using old western photographs from the Library of Congress archives, just with a sepia tone for consistency. I never really got around to putting those in the rulebook though.
- Not a lot of outside review. I've wrangled my wife into a game or two plus a few friends (who aren't hugely into games so they couldn't provide a ton of feedback), but really I just need some more eyes on the system. When I playtest I find I can get into "ruts" where I end up with similar Posses because it's hard to force myself to think outside my usual strategies and tactics, and therefore hard to test the game in it's entirety.
- Editing and clarity could use some work. This is especially true in the whole Creating a Posse / Creating a Character section of the rulebook...to ME it makes sense, but to someone with no history in the game it might look like unclear garbage. I think the Combat section is fairly clear, as is the ending sections of the rulebook...but yeah everything in between feels vaguely jumbled to me.
- Formatting is another big concern of mine. Right now I'm using the standard full page layout that I used and loved when I was 13 years old. Should two columns be used instead? Should I add some themed borders of some sort to each page?

Phew long winded post, but this seems like the kind of place where verbosity is (for once!) not frowned upon. Anyways I love having a pet project like this on the go, it's so good to keep the brain active and see the game grow and evolve, and I'd really like to take it to that "polished" level, both in terms of content and layout.

In terms of links I have a main blog for the project: http://dinosaurcowboys.wordpress.com/
The rulebook itself can be downloaded at: http://dinosaurcowboys.wordpress.com/rules/
And I have a general outline of good posts in the blog: http://dinosaurcowboys.wordpress.com/2011/06/01/what-to-read/
For an idea of how it plays you can see: http://dinosaurcowboys.wordpress.com/category/game-sessions/
(http://dinosaurcowboys.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/25-busy-turn.jpg?w=300&h=225) (http://dinosaurcowboys.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/25-busy-turn.jpg)


Title: Re: Dinosaur Cowboys skirmish game
Post by: Kyles Games on September 13, 2011, 05:40:48 AM
Ok, I have a lot of your issues with Orchestra, despite it being a fairly different animal, so I'll address them one at a time.

Quote
No art (yet?). For a while I was considering using old western photographs from the Library of Congress archives, just with a sepia tone for consistency. I never really got around to putting those in the rulebook though.

Yes, use old public domain photos that fit! Do it! Also, if you want, you may wanna Photoshop them a little if you find any that could be "action shots" with a laser drawn on. Drop me a line (PM is fine) if you want me to help with this (I'll do it for free and all, since I'm intrigued by the idea).

Quote
Not a lot of outside review. I've wrangled my wife into a game or two plus a few friends (who aren't hugely into games so they couldn't provide a ton of feedback), but really I just need some more eyes on the system. When I playtest I find I can get into "ruts" where I end up with similar Posses because it's hard to force myself to think outside my usual strategies and tactics, and therefore hard to test the game in it's entirety.

Solicit everywhere you can and use a program like MapTool or Gametable (or heck, even Minecraft) to play over the internet. Don't feel too bad if the playtest session is canceled at the very last minute (sometimes without notice to you) or there's time zone confusion and stuff never gets done, just try again. Also, these ruts are normal. I can't tell you how many times I've played Battletech with my main 'Mech being an Awesome with a ton (or forty) of ERPPC's. Just force yourself to try something else.

Quote
Editing and clarity could use some work. This is especially true in the whole Creating a Posse / Creating a Character section of the rulebook...to ME it makes sense, but to someone with no history in the game it might look like unclear garbage. I think the Combat section is fairly clear, as is the ending sections of the rulebook...but yeah everything in between feels vaguely jumbled to me.

Quote
Formatting is another big concern of mine. Right now I'm using the standard full page layout that I used and loved when I was 13 years old. Should two columns be used instead? Should I add some themed borders of some sort to each page?

I hear you. I've done the same thing with Orchestra, though it is transitioning to wiki form. There's not really a right or wrong way to do this, I've seen both ways. Two columns is more of a "professional" look, but sometimes all that means is that it's pretentious. I've definitely seen some stellar games written using both, and ultimately it doesn't make a giant difference. Part of the nice thing about two columns is that inserting art doesn't break the page up as much. As far as themed borders- feel free, but use taste. Also, if you want typesetting stuff, feel free to ask me (I'd be delighted to since I'm having a metric crapton of trouble getting Orchestra's art assets ready and I want something I can do well).

Now on to my advice from reading- The page numbers probably could be shifted over (unless you want to print bound copies, in which case keep it centered and it'll save you no end of distress), and you don't need "X of 50".

I like the examples (as evidenced by the falling damage rules, initiative, etc.), they're super helpful (though the rules are actually pretty clear to me). The mechanics are also really good- simple enough for them to be used a lot, but nice and crunchy.

Nitpicky: Advancing a dinosaur (Horned dinosaurs are listed at 22 health, but the example acts like it's a 3 point increase to 23) has a little error.

And actually, that's the only real critique I can give right now. It's a pretty good system, the setting's interesting, I like it.


Title: Re: Dinosaur Cowboys skirmish game
Post by: bosky on September 13, 2011, 08:06:08 AM
Thanks for the feedback, it's much appreciated!

Yes, use old public domain photos that fit! Do it! Also, if you want, you may wanna Photoshop them a little if you find any that could be "action shots" with a laser drawn on. Drop me a line (PM is fine) if you want me to help with this (I'll do it for free and all, since I'm intrigued by the idea).
The images I was planning on using are viewable here (http://dinosaurcowboys.wordpress.com/2011/06/21/example-rulebook-images/), and I had also considered taking my own photos of miniatures + dinosaurs and then sepia toning those. After seeing the images do you think Photoshopping anything into them is worthwhile? A lot of them give me an old west feel but definitely not a sci-fi or dinosaur sense to them.

Solicit everywhere you can and use a program like MapTool or Gametable (or heck, even Minecraft) to play over the internet. Don't feel too bad if the playtest session is canceled at the very last minute (sometimes without notice to you) or there's time zone confusion and stuff never gets done, just try again. Also, these ruts are normal. I can't tell you how many times I've played Battletech with my main 'Mech being an Awesome with a ton (or forty) of ERPPC's. Just force yourself to try something else.
Mentioning Battletech made me nostalgic. Anyways this is a good idea and one I hadn't thought of. I was more aiming to get people with existing Warhammer 40,000 or other miniature collections to give it a go, but a software tool might be more easily accessible and lower investment for people to try. I haven't use MapTool or GameTable before so I'll have to research, but I take it you can just move pieces/images around on a board or something?

I hear you. I've done the same thing with Orchestra, though it is transitioning to wiki form. There's not really a right or wrong way to do this, I've seen both ways. Two columns is more of a "professional" look, but sometimes all that means is that it's pretentious. I've definitely seen some stellar games written using both, and ultimately it doesn't make a giant difference. Part of the nice thing about two columns is that inserting art doesn't break the page up as much. As far as themed borders- feel free, but use taste. Also, if you want typesetting stuff, feel free to ask me (I'd be delighted to since I'm having a metric crapton of trouble getting Orchestra's art assets ready and I want something I can do well).
So far I've stayed away from the two column approach because some of the examples or statelines or tables tend to bleed pretty far across the page. I just find two columns to be a bit cramped. I haven't printed a hardcopy in a while though so maybe I'll try adding the images and printing it to see how it looks.

Now on to my advice from reading- The page numbers probably could be shifted over (unless you want to print bound copies, in which case keep it centered and it'll save you no end of distress), and you don't need "X of 50".

I like the examples (as evidenced by the falling damage rules, initiative, etc.), they're super helpful (though the rules are actually pretty clear to me). The mechanics are also really good- simple enough for them to be used a lot, but nice and crunchy.

Nitpicky: Advancing a dinosaur (Horned dinosaurs are listed at 22 health, but the example acts like it's a 3 point increase to 23) has a little error.
Thanks for these ideas, I've removed the Page X of Y to be just be Page X (kind of a "duh" moment on my behalf :) ) and also fixed that Advancing a Dinosaur example. Good catch! Thanks again for the read through!


Title: Re: Dinosaur Cowboys skirmish game
Post by: Daniel36 on September 14, 2011, 05:40:29 AM
Heya Bosky,
Love the idea, downloaded the rules. I like how it feels familiar. It kind of feels like Necromunda but with cowboys and dinosaurs. Win win situation if you ask me. I have absolutely no trouble with the formatting. I understand that two columns looks more profesional, but this doesn't bother me at all.

On art, I am of the opinion that you will only force a specific feel to your game that might not jive well with people. Let them feel the game for themselves... The map you supplied is all the art I need... But that can be a matter of taste.

I can't really help with reviewing right now, I have a ton of things to do right now, so my free time mostly heads to Chronicles, but I am setting up a games club where I live, so I might be able to turn a couple of try out games once that starts running... Mind you, this won't be any time soon... But I wouldn't mind playtesting...


Title: Re: Dinosaur Cowboys skirmish game
Post by: Kyles Games on September 14, 2011, 07:09:49 AM
Thanks for the feedback, it's much appreciated!


The images I was planning on using are viewable here (http://dinosaurcowboys.wordpress.com/2011/06/21/example-rulebook-images/), and I had also considered taking my own photos of miniatures + dinosaurs and then sepia toning those. After seeing the images do you think Photoshopping anything into them is worthwhile? A lot of them give me an old west feel but definitely not a sci-fi or dinosaur sense to them.

Mentioning Battletech made me nostalgic. Anyways this is a good idea and one I hadn't thought of. I was more aiming to get people with existing Warhammer 40,000 or other miniature collections to give it a go, but a software tool might be more easily accessible and lower investment for people to try. I haven't use MapTool or GameTable before so I'll have to research, but I take it you can just move pieces/images around on a board or something?

So far I've stayed away from the two column approach because some of the examples or statelines or tables tend to bleed pretty far across the page. I just find two columns to be a bit cramped. I haven't printed a hardcopy in a while though so maybe I'll try adding the images and printing it to see how it looks.

Thanks for these ideas, I've removed the Page X of Y to be just be Page X (kind of a "duh" moment on my behalf :) ) and also fixed that Advancing a Dinosaur example. Good catch! Thanks again for the read through!

Actually, now that I see the images, they're fine right now. I wouldn't take pictures of miniatures because it's usually pretty obvious they're photos of miniatures (this absolutely killed me when I was getting into CBT and a lot of the Games Workshop things).

And yes, solicit WH40K and especially Necromunda players. That's what it reminded me of but I couldn't come up with the title of. The MapTool/Gametable communities should also be a place you can recruit people.

As for the columns- it depends whether you're putting them in line or not. If it's at the end of a page after text it's ok, but if it'll be in text it'd look best at the top left or bottom right if you were just going full-page text (in my opinion). There's nothing wrong with pictures and full page, but they work best as background or a page conclusion.


Title: Re: Dinosaur Cowboys skirmish game
Post by: bosky on September 14, 2011, 09:09:17 AM
@Daniel36: Thanks for the feedback. The idea of no art and using descriptive text is an interesting one. I am hoping to eventually write some supporting fiction and I had considered adding little "blurbs" throughout the rulebook to help immersion. Any help with playtesting is very much appreciated, and should be a low barrier of entry to try since you can proxy figures and use existing 28mm scale terrain.

@Kyles Games: Yeah I didn't know how much could be photoshopped onto the images, and since I don't actually have a big cowboy collection (yet) pictures of minis in set battles wouldn't work regardless. I'll try to drum up some Necromunda players, but their community already seems pretty small and tight knit (at least around here).

----
Aside from formatting I ran into another question in regards to the core rules. I'm having a hard time choosing between game balance, rules simplicity, and real world believability (as far as dinosaurs and modern people can be believed...). This is specifically in regards to the dinosaurs themselves. Right now they are treated sort of like big cowboys in the sense that they move and attack the same way, and are really only differentiated by their massive amount of HP, ability to transport others, and lack of equipment. I was thinking of maybe trying to split their rules a bit further. Maybe make dinosaurs not take Bravery Tests because of their massive size. Also maybe they can ignore difficult terrain (like trees and hills) since they can just smash right through them. But splitting their rules starts to complicate the game, even if it helps portray dinosaurs more realistically.
So I guess my question is: Do you think the way dinosaurs are handled needs to be changed? Do they need to be "spiced up" and differentiated further at the cost of simplicity and the potential cost of balance?


Title: Re: Dinosaur Cowboys skirmish game
Post by: Kyles Games on September 14, 2011, 09:28:53 AM
One consideration for dinosaurs might be making bravery tests based on noise (firearms) as opposed to just damage, making certain weapons have a bravery effect on dinosaurs (or everyone) beyond just their damage? Similarly, maybe make bravery be a turn-based thing instead of a one-hit thing (though I may have read that wrong). Also, Dinosaurs should probably still have bravery tests, but based on size, something like 5/size category from smallest to largest? Similarly, dinosaurs could have facing require movement distance input (maybe like 1/4" for up to a full 180 turn). They should definitely mind terrain less than a human (at least the larger ones) due to size. On the topic of rules I'd suggest going with rules simplicity- which I think you're already doing well enough at- since I think you've got a self-balancing situation going on here (one strategy will always fall prey to a counter strategy).

Dinosaur handling is fine now, but you could certainly make them a little more distinguished since right now they're not terribly distinguished from a heavy hand-to-hand fighter.


Title: Re: Dinosaur Cowboys skirmish game
Post by: bosky on September 14, 2011, 09:44:52 AM
Hmm all good considerations, thanks for the ideas. For Bravery Tests you are correct that they are based on one-shot damage instead of total per turn. The reason being that otherwise damage per turn would have to be tracked or remembered somehow, like "Well I hit him for 4, but I think I hit him for 8 earlier too right? No no that was last turn, wasn't it?". But as it stands the larger dinosaurs basically don't take Bravery Tests already since it's very hard to do half of 35 HP of damage in a single attack.
I sort of visualized the dinosaurs as bred and trained as warmounts, so firing wouldn't distract them as much. Although what kind of rule method did you have in mind for deciding noise and how it affects dinosaurs? I'm more concerned about people firing while mounted since if dinosaurs are skittish that wouldn't work as well. Hmm maybe just dinosaurs could take a Bravery Test based on the total damage per turn instead of in one-shot, so then players get into a case of "Bring the beast down!" and focus firing to try to get it to flee.
I was also considering changing a failed Bravery Test to use a chart (like 1-2: Flee, 3-4: Stunned, 5-6: Berserk) and then I could use a different chart of dinosaurs.

I'm trying to avoid making dinosaurs have to move like vehicles in other games with turning arcs and the like (flashes of Car Wars here). Although I almost wonder if different "classes" of dinosaurs could behave differently, which would have the bonus of differentiating them beyond just statistics. Like small dinosaurs being more agile and light whereas big dinosaurs are ponderous in their movement. Smalls could dart through terrain while big ones destroy it, etc.

Now that I've opened this can of worms I definitely need to think on it a bit more. If only there was an elegant movement solution that wasn't too different, but just different enough to be flavorful and easy to use.


Title: Re: Dinosaur Cowboys skirmish game
Post by: bosky on September 14, 2011, 09:49:21 AM
Harkening back to Battletech a bit here, but what about a "Fear Scale" (similar to the Heat Scale from BTech) that each Dinosaur has to maintain. Getting hit for massive damage, getting charged, having an ally die, etc. could all add "Fear". Then at certain points Bravery Tests are needed, and also their Movement changes based on the Fear level. I was considering random movement lengths (like D6" instead of a flat 4") with the die type changing or modifiers being added/removed as the Fear increases. So basically as the dinosaur becomes more fearful they are harder to control and predict and so their movement maximum becomes more and more random.

Or really just flat random movement in general for dinosaurs...again not in the sense of random direction, but random distance. Honestly I've never been a huge fan of unpredictable movement since then you can't reliably assume "Model X is going to be at spot Y in 3 turns" so planning and strategy are harder. I know some games swear by it though (The Sword and The Flame comes to mind). Adding a few more hitpoints and a random MV would probably help differentiate them enough, both showing their wild, primal nature and still falling inside the same movement framework.


Title: Re: Dinosaur Cowboys skirmish game
Post by: Kyles Games on September 14, 2011, 11:06:55 AM
Hmm all good considerations, thanks for the ideas. For Bravery Tests you are correct that they are based on one-shot damage instead of total per turn. The reason being that otherwise damage per turn would have to be tracked or remembered somehow, like "Well I hit him for 4, but I think I hit him for 8 earlier too right? No no that was last turn, wasn't it?". But as it stands the larger dinosaurs basically don't take Bravery Tests already since it's very hard to do half of 35 HP of damage in a single attack.
I sort of visualized the dinosaurs as bred and trained as warmounts, so firing wouldn't distract them as much. Although what kind of rule method did you have in mind for deciding noise and how it affects dinosaurs? I'm more concerned about people firing while mounted since if dinosaurs are skittish that wouldn't work as well. Hmm maybe just dinosaurs could take a Bravery Test based on the total damage per turn instead of in one-shot, so then players get into a case of "Bring the beast down!" and focus firing to try to get it to flee.
I was also considering changing a failed Bravery Test to use a chart (like 1-2: Flee, 3-4: Stunned, 5-6: Berserk) and then I could use a different chart of dinosaurs.

I'm trying to avoid making dinosaurs have to move like vehicles in other games with turning arcs and the like (flashes of Car Wars here). Although I almost wonder if different "classes" of dinosaurs could behave differently, which would have the bonus of differentiating them beyond just statistics. Like small dinosaurs being more agile and light whereas big dinosaurs are ponderous in their movement. Smalls could dart through terrain while big ones destroy it, etc.

Now that I've opened this can of worms I definitely need to think on it a bit more. If only there was an elegant movement solution that wasn't too different, but just different enough to be flavorful and easy to use.

For sound, I would've just done a flat number per weapon used that tracks neighboring tiles and riders, as well as incoming fire. For the most part they wouldn't be so skittish as to run away from a gun shot, but they could panic in fights with a lot of guns going off. Sound could even just track any ranged weapon other than unpowered ones (and maybe lasers depending on how they're handled) used on the battlefield, making it important as a balance issue between using a dino or bringing a Gatling gun (individual shots count, not the weapon type).

Maybe training could be a bonus (or flaw in the case it's standard but lacking on some) to resist panic? Similarly, bravery damage could be modified by certain weapons/a modifier could be applied (flamethrowers, for instance, plasma weapons?).

Definitely don't make dinosaurs like vehicles, they are living entities. That said, they should definitely be bulkier than people, so their facing should be more important since they can't turn as quick. Maybe add additional bravery damage to attacks from behind dinosaurs?

Harkening back to Battletech a bit here, but what about a "Fear Scale" (similar to the Heat Scale from BTech) that each Dinosaur has to maintain. Getting hit for massive damage, getting charged, having an ally die, etc. could all add "Fear". Then at certain points Bravery Tests are needed, and also their Movement changes based on the Fear level. I was considering random movement lengths (like D6" instead of a flat 4") with the die type changing or modifiers being added/removed as the Fear increases. So basically as the dinosaur becomes more fearful they are harder to control and predict and so their movement maximum becomes more and more random.

Or really just flat random movement in general for dinosaurs...again not in the sense of random direction, but random distance. Honestly I've never been a huge fan of unpredictable movement since then you can't reliably assume "Model X is going to be at spot Y in 3 turns" so planning and strategy are harder. I know some games swear by it though (The Sword and The Flame comes to mind). Adding a few more hitpoints and a random MV would probably help differentiate them enough, both showing their wild, primal nature and still falling inside the same movement framework.

I'm not a fan of doing random movement. Most people and animals can move at a reliable rate. The Fear Scale would work okay, but remember to note that fear can dissipate quicker than heat- maybe riders could help with this?


Title: Re: Dinosaur Cowboys skirmish game
Post by: Daniel36 on September 14, 2011, 01:49:40 PM
Apologies if this is already present, but I would like it if dinos would be unpredictable, in that they can go berserk. Perhaps a failed bravery test will mean they just attack the nearest (human) model, regardless of which side they are on?


Title: Re: Dinosaur Cowboys skirmish game
Post by: Kyles Games on September 14, 2011, 02:50:04 PM
Apologies if this is already present, but I would like it if dinos would be unpredictable, in that they can go berserk. Perhaps a failed bravery test will mean they just attack the nearest (human) model, regardless of which side they are on?

The issue with this is that it would be more akin to bringing in a tiger on a leash versus riding a horse into battle which is what I believe the setting is currently set up for. A rider would probably be able to control all but the most bloodthirsty of mounts when it comes to preventing friendly fire.

That said, it's an awesome idea, but maybe not really terribly great since it means that having a couple humans with big guns would be better than the awesome power of a dino unless it's really unlikely, and then it's just more reading most of the time. Also, since it's not like dinos can make ranged attacks, you'd probably see a lot of battles where the dinos go in first and duel until one dies and then the humans move in.


Title: Re: Dinosaur Cowboys skirmish game
Post by: bosky on September 14, 2011, 03:01:31 PM
Quote from: Kyles Games
For sound, I would've just done a flat number per weapon used that tracks neighboring tiles and riders, as well as incoming fire. For the most part they wouldn't be so skittish as to run away from a gun shot, but they could panic in fights with a lot of guns going off. Sound could even just track any ranged weapon other than unpowered ones (and maybe lasers depending on how they're handled) used on the battlefield, making it important as a balance issue between using a dino or bringing a Gatling gun (individual shots count, not the weapon type).

Maybe training could be a bonus (or flaw in the case it's standard but lacking on some) to resist panic? Similarly, bravery damage could be modified by certain weapons/a modifier could be applied (flamethrowers, for instance, plasma weapons?).

Definitely don't make dinosaurs like vehicles, they are living entities. That said, they should definitely be bulkier than people, so their facing should be more important since they can't turn as quick. Maybe add additional bravery damage to attacks from behind dinosaurs?

That is a LOT of added rules just for tracking sound and panic, and is honestly waaaaay too complicated for the simple skirmish system I'm going for. Plus I think you might have bled some of Orchestra Stamina system into "Bravery Damage" in this case. :)
Also note it's currently easier to get a Critical Hit (10+ instead of 12+) if attacking an entity from the back, so Facing is already handled in that regard. Right now setting Facing is done for free at the end of a move. Without getting into angles and turning keys though I don't see how Facing could reliably and accurately be changed for a dinosaur...remember the toys are unbased and some are awkwardly shaped as well.
I agree about random movement distance, since a well trained mount would have a predictable pace (even if they might buck at the harnesses every now and then).

Quote from: Daniel36
Apologies if this is already present, but I would like it if dinos would be unpredictable, in that they can go berserk. Perhaps a failed bravery test will mean they just attack the nearest (human) model, regardless of which side they are on?

Currently the only outcome to failing a Bravery Test is Fleeing, which just means they move directly away from the nearest enemy at the start of their next Activation. I mentioned considering a chart for failed Bravery Test results a few posts back, so maybe I'll mock one of those up and playtest it. I do want to have the mounts generally reliable though (compared to say a Chaos Dreadnought in 40k), but in a situation of sheer panic where they are blinded with pain I could see them accidentally stomping on nearby allies. Not so much biting and snapping at allies, but that much weight and mass throwing itself around could hurt anyone mounted or nearby.


Title: Re: Dinosaur Cowboys skirmish game
Post by: Daniel36 on September 15, 2011, 12:33:31 AM
Good points. Perhaps they need to run in a straight line away from whoever caused the panic, any model if in the line of flight could get stomped on. Sounds like fun, gives the game a slightly unpredictable scary factor too.


Title: Re: Dinosaur Cowboys skirmish game
Post by: bosky on September 15, 2011, 08:22:15 AM
Good points. Perhaps they need to run in a straight line away from whoever caused the panic, any model if in the line of flight could get stomped on. Sounds like fun, gives the game a slightly unpredictable scary factor too.

I bolded the line that I hadn't thought of, but that is really great for what I'm trying to achieve. It still fits inside the current Bravery Test framework (since they Flee in a straight line away from enemies already), but with an added bonus of being slightly different than humans and also reinforcing how bulky they are. I'll definitely had to add this element to the rules, thanks for the idea!


Title: Re: Dinosaur Cowboys skirmish game
Post by: bosky on September 15, 2011, 08:27:31 AM
Actually to make the Fleeing really unpredictable and scary I would almost consider having Dinosaurs Flee in a random direction and stomp anything in their path. Two problems with that though:
1. I hate requiring directional dice (scatter dice from 40k)...maybe they could either go directly forward or directly backward instead?
2. Exactness would be a problem where an opponent might try to weasel their way out of getting hit by a Fleeing dinosaur by arguing what angle the directional dice is at.


Title: Re: Dinosaur Cowboys skirmish game
Post by: Daniel36 on September 15, 2011, 11:56:20 PM
You don't need directional dice. You can make a random direction thingy from pretty much everything. Just draw an arrow on whatever you use and throw it in the air.


Title: Re: Dinosaur Cowboys skirmish game
Post by: bosky on September 19, 2011, 11:12:35 AM
So instead of some of the dinosaur based changes I mentioned before I went another route. I implemented a new dinosaur only stat for Discpline into the rulebook and am going to playtest that a few times before making it official. Here's how it works in the updated version:

So basically each Dinosaur has a set Discipline value (currently between 3 and 10) and if damage from a single attack exceeds that value they add a Panic token (multiple can be added). If they Activate while having a Panic token they use a random movement distance instead of their set value. For example the Runner uses D10" instead of 10". At the end of their Activation they remove 1 Panic token automatically, plus 1 additional Panic token if they are mounted (representing the rider soothing/calming down/controlling the dinosaur).
Dinosaurs can be Trained or Untrained. Trained get +1 Discipline, +1 MMC whereas Untrained get -1 Discipline, +2 HP. I'm not 100% sold on those numbers though and might just make both be a modifier to Discipline and Hitpoints (and maybe just +/- 1 HP instead of 2).

That's roughly how the system works, and here's the rulebook excerpt for it:

----
Discipline
Discipline represents a dinosaur's ability to perform in combat while suffering pain, surprise, fear, and other trying emotions of battle. A higher discipline means a dinosaur will be able to maintain a consistent pace and direction and obey any rider's commands. A lower discipline means the dinosaur is more likely to circle in panic and stumble around in fear.

How to use Discipline
If a dinosaur suffers damage greater than or equal to their Discipline value from a single ranged or melee attack they will panic.
Mark them with a "Panic" token. Multiple Panic tokens can be placed on each dinosaur.
For example a Horned Dinosaur has a Discipline of 8. They are hit by a Rotary Rifle for 11 damage and are therefore marked with a Panic token. During the next Activation they are hit by a Bundle of Dynamite for a further 8 damage, so another Panic token is added.

Effect of Panic
When marked with one or more Panic token dinosaurs will use their Panic Movement, as recorded on the Posse Roster.
For example a Runner Dinosaur has a Movement statistic of 10 and a Panic Movement of D10. If they were marked with a Panic token they would have to roll D10 to decide how far they can Standard Move, instead of using the static 10 value.

Recovering from Panic
At the end of the dinosaur's Activation remove 1 Panic token.
If the dinosaur is mounted remove an additional 1 Panic token.
For example a King Dinosaur (with two passengers) has 3 Panic tokens at the start of the turn. Eventually it Activates, rolls D6 for it's Panic Movement with a result of 2. The King performs a 2" Standard Move and then a rider fires. The King's Activation is done, so 2 Panic tokens are removed (1 default with a bonus 1 removed because the King is mounted).
----

I like this system better than the Bravery Test (which human character still use) as it distinguishes dinosaurs and also rewards pouring fire into them. Let me know what you think and whether the system looks faulty or can be improved!


Title: Re: Dinosaur Cowboys skirmish game
Post by: Kyles Games on September 19, 2011, 03:43:46 PM
Maybe the categories could be Trained and Feral, and there could be a standard one with no modifiers?

That said, I like it.


Title: Re: Dinosaur Cowboys skirmish game
Post by: bosky on September 20, 2011, 07:40:26 AM
Ah, duh on my behalf *smacks forehead* I can basically make Allegiances for Dinosaurs, and then have 4 available. I got so caught up with Trained/Untrained that I didn't think about the option of doing more modifiers (and one with no modifiers). So human cowboys can still choose Duster, Neotechnoist, etc. and then Dinosaurs can choose Trained, Feral, and two more (Young [smaller size, less HP] and Plains [faster]?). Goooood call. Glad you like the rest of the mechanics around it, I think getting into the Panic state will be flavorful and fun.


Title: Re: Dinosaur Cowboys skirmish game
Post by: bosky on September 20, 2011, 08:32:31 AM
So I ended up calling the differences Breeds instead of Allegiances, just for that bit more flavor. They are distinguished on the roster in the same manner though so that helps consistency. I went for the following:

Trained
Trained dinosaurs are born in captivity or raised in a human environment soon after birth and make ideal companions. They are disciplined mounts well versed in accepting a rider and carrying them safely through battle. However they are slightly gentler after having their primal instincts suppressed.

Effect: +1 DIS, -2 HP

Untrained
Untrained dinosaurs have some exposure to humans but not enough to be fully broken into a saddle and harness. This majority of dinosaurs are this type of breed, and such an upbringing has no positive or negative effect on their performance.

Effect: None

Feral
Feral dinosaurs are wild and free and roam through the jungles and deserts of the world. They tend to be tougher and less disciplined and think more with their stomachs than brains.

Effect: -1 DIS, +2 HP

Plains
Plains dinosaurs roam across the flat scrub land, desert, and dust bowls outside the volcanic jungle. As a result they are exceptionally fast and agile, but are less competent in a fight because of their tendency to outrun foes instead.

Effect: +1 MV, +1 MMC


Title: Re: Dinosaur Cowboys skirmish game
Post by: Thriff on September 20, 2011, 08:53:27 AM
Bosky,

I like your setting, and specifically how it meshes with the system. Dinosaur Riders? All right!

Your "Breeds" solution is very clever and effective. The narrative explanation for the stats significantly adds to the authenticity of the game. This may help players form a back story for their characters. Well done!

T


Title: Re: Dinosaur Cowboys skirmish game
Post by: bosky on September 20, 2011, 09:28:30 AM
Thanks! I'm hoping to write some short story fiction for Nanowrimo (http://www.nanowrimo.org/) in November to really had some more depth to the setting and background.

Glad you like the different Breeds, I'm really happy with how the system turned out and think it works well because it parallels Allegiances for humans, but with just enough of a flavor change to further make dinosaurs unique.


Title: Re: Dinosaur Cowboys skirmish game
Post by: bosky on September 20, 2011, 01:46:19 PM
Changing gears here to another topic: Hitpoints.

Currently Dinosaur Cowboys uses low levels of Hitpoints (default value of 8, but it can easily be modified to 6 or 10 by Allegiance. Highest is 37 HP for a Longneck Dinosaur). I had toyed with the idea of using a Knocked Down / Stunned / Out of Action system like Mordheim, but ended up staying with my RPG roots and using Hitpoints. Normally it takes 2-4 hits to kill someone, although with powerful enough guns and a weak enough target it can be done in a single shot.

I was reading about alternative systems today, and came up with an idea that I think would be pretty neat:

Hitpoints are replaced with a stat called Grit, which is a die type (D4 [worst], D6, D8, D10, or D12 [best]). Whenever an entity takes damage they roll a "Grit Save" using their die type. If their roll is greater than or equal to the incoming damage it's negated.
Example: Take 5 damage from a Six-Shooter, roll my Grit Save of D6. If I roll a 5 or 6 the damage is ignored.
If the Grit Save is failed (if I had rolled a 2 in the above example) or impossible (like if I only had D4 Grit in the above example) then I must take an Injury. To track Injuries I would add a small checkmark underneath the MV, AR, RMC, and MMC fields on the Posse Roster for each character, and then when taking an Injury the player who took the damage would check off one of these stats. Doing so modifies it negatively by 1 to represent getting hit in the legs, torso, or either arm respectively. For example if I suffer an Injury on a fast character I might sacrifice some Movement by checking their MV score, which would reduce it by 1. Then to "kill" a target you'd need to cause 4 Injuries. Obviously fields that are already checked couldn't be re-checked a second time.
What do you guys think? I kind of dig this system as it's a bit more flavorful and requires marginally less bookkeeping. I think I might end up making it an Official Variant Rule though.

Hope to hear some feedback!


Title: Re: Dinosaur Cowboys skirmish game
Post by: sumonkhan44 on October 05, 2011, 06:29:48 AM
I have some background information of WHY there are cowboys and dinosaurs, but more or less the year is 2285, society collapsed and was rebuilt, and dinosaurs escaped an "underground vault" at Yellowstone. The science doesn't really have to fit, all I wanted was an excuse to have laser six-shooters.
Originally I designed it as a rules-light RPG with skirmish elements, and then after playtesting a few campaigns I realized the system was doing neither very well. So instead I dropped the majority of the RPG elements and went pretty much pure skirmish. This was back in November 2010, and since then I've been a busy bee crafting rules, stat sheets, etc. I'm now at the playtesting stage, and thankfully the game is feeling finished enough that most of my playtests are just "plays", where I realize I'm not changing much between each game and instead just enjoying playing it.

led lighting systems (http://www.energysmartindustry.com/)


Title: Re: Dinosaur Cowboys skirmish game
Post by: bosky on October 31, 2011, 11:13:11 AM
Hey remember me? Well I'm happy to announce that I finalized the core rules of Dinosaur Cowboys in a v1.0 release, woot woot. My self imposed deadline of Halloween is here so the PDF is as well. Thanks to everyone for the various ideas around formatting and mechanics (especially when I started introducing larger sweeping changes). I hope lots of people will take some time and check out the rules and enjoy many hours of laser six-shooters and t-rexes.

Blog release note:
http://dinosaurcowboys.wordpress.com/2011/10/31/dinosaur-cowboys-v1-0-released/

v1.0 PDF:
http://dinosaurcowboys.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/dinosaur-cowboys-rulebook-v1final.pdf


Title: Re: Dinosaur Cowboys skirmish game
Post by: Thriff on November 01, 2011, 10:00:23 PM
Hey Bosky,

Congrats on reaching your deadline.

You’ve done a good job on both setting and system for Dinosaur Cowboys, this game interests the player-me.

1.) Placing “Game Overview” before “History”.

I want a brief introduction to the game’s system, setting, and session-flow before investing my time and energy in reading about its setting/history. It’s easier for me (as a prospective player) to see how I fit into the game before learning about the game setting’s history.

Your history is cool and the writing is clear (those aren’t my concerns), it’s just an order-of-presentation issue.

2.) Placing “Character Creation” before “Resolution”

Even well-written resolution rules (which yours are) can be difficult to understand until I have a handle on “what” I’ll be playing the game through (i.e. my character). It’s easier to contextualize rules for movement, combat, and items (random examples) when I know how those rules will affect the character I’ve made.

3.) Map

The map is cool (how did you make it?) but the white text is tough to read.

4.) Combat Examples

I like the examples for RMC, they really help to understand the combat. Seriously, I actually began reading the text word-for-word (rather than skimming, as I normally do) because the rules for combat were 1.) simple and 2.) interesting. So good job there!

5.) Setting

Your setting is cool, dinosaurs and tech…? Awesome!

But here’s my confession: I’m not from the US, and placing the story on future-US soil makes it difficult for me to immerse myself in the game. Is this a deal-breaker? No. But hopefully my perspective here will give you a heads-up as to how others may feel.

The root of my problem (I believe) is that I feel like you have too many states for me to be able to readily personify each. Perhaps you, being American (I’ll assume) are familiar with what stereotypes and trends should be associated with each state which then allows you to better anticipate how each state would respond to the events leading up to year 2285. But I don’t have that knowledge, so your 20-30 states are all meaninglessly interchangeable.

This makes it difficult for me to care about the political borders you’ve drawn on your map. (To be fair, I could muster up some idea of what a Californian or Texan acts like … but beyond that the other 20-ish are very foreign to me). What do the members of each state dress like, act like in public/private, do in their spare time? What are the primary import/exports, common vegetation and geography, political structure, history, social hierarchies… of each?

Do you have to change your setting? Of course not. Is this a problem that’s unique to me? Possibly.

But, if you’re interested, I’d suggest this change: consolidate the states into future mini-nations or feuding/allied empires. Instead of 20-30 states have 2-7 mini-nations that arose from the ashes of now-USA (perhaps even immigrants from Canada or Mexico…?). Give each mini-nation defining features and traits that allow the reader (be they American or not) to quickly identify each nation. I think this change will make your setting more interesting and more immersive for players from across the world.

Hope this helps,

T



Title: Re: Dinosaur Cowboys skirmish game
Post by: bosky on November 02, 2011, 08:47:49 AM
Terrific feedback Thriff, it's much appreciated. Let me respond point by point.

1) Genius, I hadn't thought of that. I kind of get into a routine (rut maybe?) of how I format my game rules, and for the longest time I put the background info for the game before anything else. I'm going to eventually do a v1.1 release and I'll reformat the order for that. Thanks for the idea!

2) Glad to hear you liked the resolution rules, I'm really happy with how they turned out especially since mechanics are a bit part of the gameplay experience to me. I'm a bit less sure on reversing this item though, because I'm of the opposite school of thought: I don't know what's good for a character until I know how that character will be used. Would you tend to have Game Overview -> History -> Character Creation -> The Turn -> Combat? Or put Character Creation in between The Turn and Combat?

3) That was actually made by a fan (http://dinosaurcowboys.wordpress.com/2011/08/15/new-fan-made-overland-map/), so I don't know the details. He was kind of an enigmatic character named Felix. He sent me a bunch of awesome images (the map, some weapons, alternative logos) and then I didn't hear much else from him, or ever get a website to credit him with. Before the radness of full color I had a simpler map I had designed (http://dinosaurcowboys.wordpress.com/2009/12/09/how-the-year-2285-really-looks/). As you can tell I am rather limited in my graphics abilities but I'll see about changing the text.

4) Glad the examples helped, I really tried to clarify the combat as much as possible since it's hard to know how understandable it is to a fresh set of eyes when I've been so close to the mechanics for so long. I'm definitely proud of how the combat system turned out and that I could still use the less common D12s.

5) Haha I can totally relate. You see it all the time in movies too where the aliens ALWAYS invade/land in the US. I'm actually from Canada though.
Part of the reason for keeping the original states is I want campaign maps to be playable on real world road maps and atlases. Heck that might even be the main reason. I sort of just wiped the coasts off the map, threw a volcano in at Yellowstone National Park, and left it as that.
I guess I might not have been clear enough about the states and borders though in the background, as they don't matter nearly as much as a person would think. It's really more about the Allegiances and the Neotechnoist vs Duster relationship. The states are just a backdrop and are more defined by their climate and how much jungle, desert, or sunken cities they have.
I'm torn on merging states and creating new backgrounds in regards to that as I think it would water down the Allegiances or force me to redo them entirely. Hmm but I do kind of like the splintered nations idea since it's pretty popular in post apocalyptic games. Each coast, the south, the volcano, and a few smaller nations would probably cover most of the areas of interest.
In a standalone game the map doesn't matter at all, and in a campaign game I guess I would hope people would use whatever maps they want (be it Europe, Russia, Australia, etc.)...maybe I just need to put a note in the game mentioning other countries? I do briefly mention Canada and Mexico since they are on the same continent but just blanket cover the outside world as "not able to re-establish contact, not able to cross the seas".
I do agree that the original states kind of seem out of place since so much else has changed. Gonna have to think on this one.