Sunday, July 3, 2016

CORPS 4.1.5 and CORPS into the future

As with any game in development, especially when trying new concepts, certain things are going to fail and other things will work.  CORPS has certainly been no exception.  We've had a number of things work for us and a number of things that for one reason or another had to be scratched from the game.  One thing I can say for sure is that the progress in the game has certainly been going in the right direction.  I mean that both in terms of completeness of the game as well as the goals we set out for the game in the first place.  CORPS was meant to be above all else a fun table-top role playing game.  As we developed the game we pretty much agreed that the real heart of the role playing game would be the combat and thus we have the acronym Combat Oriented Role Playing System.

The more time and effort we've put into the game the more I amazed at how we've been able to tweak things to really increase the level of fun and excitement we get while testing it out.  I also feel like things within the game are much more cemented.  I can't say how good it feels to be moving forwards with new development rather than going back and changing things that have already been done because they didn't work as well as you hoped the first time around.  Sure there are still minor tweaks here and there, especially in light of testing but the bulk of the game as it is now is how it'll be when we eventually move towards releasing the game as a finished product.   That time is still a decent ways away but I am more of the mind that we'll know we'll be getting close as we wrap up the last of development and start working on a kick starter campaign to raise funds for hiring an artist who can turn our ideas in to bold images to describe things as we see it.  Of course that is as I said, a ways off.

One thing I did think of as I was going through our older and infrequent blog posts is that despite talking about CORPS so much, there is a lot of stuff that had been previously introduced in prior years that is totally irrelevant or just out right wrong now.  I had thought about putting together another list of blog entries that would reintroduce CORP to the readership of this blog but the time spent writing to the blog is time that I could be spending towards the actual development.  Since this is all a side project it pains me to manage time so closely but life comes before hobbies unfortunately. Still I think it would be a good idea to reintroduce the game with the changes that we'll most likely go live with. The game really has come a long way since we started and even more so through all the various major releases we've gone through.  I plan to in the near future to begin taking this game to comic bookshops to try to run people through an actual demo of the game just so I can start getting candid feedback on how the game plays out.  The thing is, and this is why I primarily am bringing it up here on this blog, up to this point nearly all of my testing of this game has been done online.  It stands to reason if someone actually reads this post and has some interest in the game, even if it's just mild curiosity, it's someone like that that I should be reaching out to in order to have them test out the game.  So I'll just keep this short and say that if you are interested in helping us test the game just reach out and let use know on my website:  If you're curious as to what we are using to test here is a list of the software we use.

Mumble (VoIP)
MapTools (Tabletop sim software - requires java)

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Change log? WTF is that? CORPS 4.1.3

Sometimes I feel like the development process for CORPS is something like sticking one's head in the sand.  Why are you sticking your head in the sand?  To see more sand in more detail of course.  In this case sand in my metaphor for all those tiny details that come together to make the game great.  Of course in spending such a lengthy amount of time working on the details you can tend to lose focus of the big picture as well as the processes that help support the building of the big picture.
One thing we had always done was to give our builds version numbers so we'd know where we were in our development process as also when something might be out of date.  This was often the case with test characters we created.  You make a character, test them some, make some tweaks that affect a number of characters and suddenly you have characters whose builds are no longer valid.   We quickly found putting a version number on the document proved very helpful in letting us know what and who needed to be reviewed before testing after making a change.  But one painfully obvious omission we made was that we never documented exactly what these version numbers meant.  That is to say when we made a big game changing update, we'd simply give that a new version number without specifically writing down what it was we had changed and more importantly why.  When you're constantly working on something constantly it stays pretty fresh and the developers never really paid it much attention.  We did a good enough job of remember what was recently changed and whenever we took breaks from developing any big changes had been fully implemented so even if we didn't remember what we changed recently we could plainly see what the new rules were.

It wasn't until this most recent round of changes that we ran into the problem of, "wait what version did this change belong it?"  With a lot of changes flying around going back and forth and length of the development cycle we started becoming slowly aware that we couldn't keep all this crap together.  Some documents had notes in the documents some didn't, some had documentation about a version number with no mention of what that number actually represented.  Needless to say it started to get pretty messy.  Luckily the fix was simple.  We were able to create a central record keep for all the changes that went in under each version and what those changes were and why.  It's really kind of sad cause we've overhauled the game essentially 3 times now, and have had numerious tiny and sizeable changes in between those and all this time we never had anything to clearly state what these changes were.  Sure we had them written down.... somewhere.  But the central record keep is really what we've been needing for quite some time.  Welcome to what programmers refer to the changelog.  The concept is simple.  It's a log of everything that changed since the last released version. Being programmers ourselves we had to laugh at the fact that we'd hadn't thought of putting this together sooner.

Another interesting aspect of having a changelog, even though it's still pretty immature, it's neat to be able to see what we actually have been working on for the past... well year now.  Shit I really need to update this blog more.  Well anyway I figured I'd give a short list of the most recent set of changes we've made to give a glimpse into some of the stuff we've been tweaking as of late.

4.1.30 - Racial Review, 2m/2w updates

Racial Review - The stat bonuses are made more consistent, Burman are Br/Re, Gryx are Br/Pr,  Feydra are Agi then Pr Or Re, Primentals are Br then Pr Or Re.  This gives more flexibility for races to be casters, because making a Re based class without Re is just rough.  Melee has more flexibility, because you can go balanced weapons and use the bonus to Re or Agi.  Agile weapon user and Heavy weapon user still will need the isolated stat.

Oh the Humanity changes again.  This time it is +4 to hit, but gives advantage to any critical rolls.  It is difficult to balance as it is currently the only racial which has a decent chance of doing nothing by using it unless you are attacking 2 or more targets.  The swift version was strong, but for the wrong reason -- the game was hypernova back then.

Caster Core Powers Review - A more detailed breakdown of the 3w is leading to an overhaul of the kits.  1g’s apparent were way OP - but we have no test data to support the numbers.  In theory 2w/2m were underpowered because they were “equal” to a 3m or 3w (using three theme points).  2m/2w gain an encounter ability to cast a std/delib action spell and perform a snap attack.

2w/2m stat sharing - Updated so that 2w/2m will usually be marital stat primary -- All 2w/2m now get +1 to spell damage per point in Agi or Br.  This allows a 3 offence stat to have a +3 bonus to spell damage, and a +6 if they have an “off stat” racial bonus.  The old way was allowing 3 offence with off stat to have a +8 to melee, +6 to spells, and the epic stat PP bonus.  This is vastly stronger than any other setup, so it was highhandedly nerfed.

Overcast Magic Spell  - Duh.  Math is hard.  As an overcast reg spell is +18%, an overcast magic should be +18% -- which is a +2 to hit, not +1.

Core Caster Static Bonus:  The bonus for non-scaling effects has been increased from 25% to 40%.  This is for consistency with Juggernaut PP, which is valued at 9 (as a PP) and it gives 6 THP (non-scaling).

HP Increase:  SD, Vitality, and stealth now give slightly more HP.  All HP fractions are now X/3.  SD went from 1/4 to 1/3 per rank,  Vit is now 4/3, 8/3, 10/3. 12/3, [from 1,2, 5/2, 7/2] and stealth increases from 1/2 per rank to 2/3 per rank.

Makes absolutely no sense?  Yeah well I guess you'd either need to know the game some first before decoding what all of that slang means.  What you can take away from it though is that we're hard at work progressing CORPS towards general release and look forward to when we can start playing the game with regular people rather than those in our tight knit beta groups.  Until then... keep on gaming

Friday, March 20, 2015

CORPS 4.0 is coming along

If CORPS 3.0 was about bringing simplification to the CORPS system CORPS 4.0 has been about normalizing the simplification process.  In particular the spell system being utilized by CORPS has seen a dramatic shift in how things work.  Previously the type of spell was very important to it's assumed action.  This grouping followed along the line of thought that certain spells were considered attack spells while other spells were considered utility spells.  At the highest level of spell abstraction these were the two categories of spells which seemed simple enough.  But a byproduct of the balancing and simplification that was introduced in 3.0 was that some spells such as creature summoning spells needed to be standard action spells instead of move action spells even though they were technically categorized as a utility spell.  This realization came about after extensive testing and it was clear to see just what kind of an impact summoning spells could have on a combat.   Of course in 3.0 we then had this arbitrary bit of complexity embedded in spells which just didn't feel right.   In 4.0 we've sought to address this by removing the age old assumption between attack spells being standard action casts and utility spells being move action casts. Since a move action was less costly than a standard action spell we inherently made utility spells weaker than standard action spells.  However before I go forward with explaining the new changes perhaps I should take a step back and better explain how things used to be and why the change.

As I mentioned, spells used to have an associated cast action with them.  This used to work because all spell casters were allowed 1 spell per turn and so could choose use their move action to cast a utility spell or a standard action to cast an attack spell.  The actions of a character within a single turn are normally limited to a standard, move and minor action.  With standard encompassing complex actions like attacking, disengaging or total defense, move actions being responsible for general movement and shifting and minor actions covering mundane tasks like loading a bow, opening a door, drawing/sheathing a weapon etc.  So as a caster when casting the spell the player had a decision to make which usually boiled down to one of two options.  The caster could choose to cast an attack spell and use the move for movement or overcasting the attack spell. (Overcasting is a method to slightly increase the strength of a spell at the cost of the casters move action) or the caster could choose to cast a utility spell and then use their standard for something like an implement attack which is basically like a weak version of a normal weapon attack for casters.

While this sounds good and fine there were actually quite a few issues with the system as a whole.  The most offensive was probably perhaps how pigeon holed certain spell spheres felt based on their roles.  For example, the elemental sphere is a high damage sphere that should be able to dish out a high level of burst damage.  But if the elementalist every wanted/needed to cast a utility spell their damage would tank because everything that made their spells strong was lost when they attempted to use an implement attack.   On the flip side the priest sphere which focused on powerful utility spells, could continually make use of those spells while making use of their implement attack and when their allies were under pressure the priest could simply switch over to attack spells and essentially lose nothing in the process.  This is only one example and there were plenty others but ultimately it seemed by limited casters to only 1 spell per turn was really constraining how they played out in practice.

One thing 4.0 sought to remove was the 1 spell per turn restriction.  Instead casters were restricted only in action.  This meant that so long as the caster had the action to cast a spell they could cast it.  This idea while fairly simple and straight forward immediately broke a lot of assumptions surrounding existing spells.  Casters were suddenly incredibly powerful compared to their martial counter parts.  The problem was inherit in the design of our spells and ultimately that high level categorization of attack spells being standard action cast and utility spells being move action.  The solution was to make cast action independent of spell type.  The way we did this was that rather than assigning spell strength based on attack or utility we now assigned spell strength based off of cast action.  We normalized the strength of spells such that if a standard action spell were considered 100% spell strength then a move action spell would be considered 40% spell strength.  Using this system we also realized that there was an interesting new category of spell actions for deliberate spells whose strength would naturally be 140%.  With this idea we were able to build around a set of assumptions for each type of spell and then started converting our existing spell system to this new more modular and elegant spell system.

So far we have performed extensive testing across nearly all types of martial and magic characters and our results are looking very good.  The multitudes of different builds along with their viability is simply astounding.  Players are free to mix and match a wide variety of pieces in their characters that allow they to cobble together nearly any kind of archetype they can imagine.  It really speaks to our goal of being able to create a tactically balanced, classless combat system that is fun and engaging.  The success we've found in our 4.0 revision has been so great in fact we are looking at expanding our normalization process that we applied to spells and are now looking to incorporate it into the martial class's knack system.  While this is still in the works it should ultimately yield a normalized set of combat knacks among all the various types of combat fighting styles.  Our goal with this, much like what we planned for spells, is to have a simple system that accurately defines all powers available to a particular character that provides multiple viable options that are both balanced and among other available options as well as other character types as a whole.  I'd be lying if I were to say it was an easy process but it certainly is a fun an exciting one.  Hopefully these milestones will put us one step closer towards an end product or perhaps a future kick starter project to get CORPS off the ground and into the hands of table top players.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

So you want to build a character?! Better download that character generator

You may have heard this a few times when playing a new RPG that involves a lengthy character creation process.  There are a few RPGs out there that making a character more or less means you need to get some software to do it.  Sure character builders are nice and helpful, but for some games it's just absolutely a must have.  Off the top of my head rolemasters comes to mind.  Creating a character in that by hand is roughly equivalent to slicing open your right eye with a jagged piece of glass then sewing it shut with a rusty needle.  Needless to say I can think of other things I'd rather be doing with my time.

So I bring this topic up because not too long ago I brought in a small group of co-workers and decided I'd try walking them through building a character in the CORPS much like a DM would in any RPG where the players have tabletop gaming experience but have never heard of the title of the game they are playing.  Since this was done during lunch breaks at my day job I've found it actually difficult to cut it all up into hour long character building sessions.  Although an hour may sound like a long time, if you factor in people are eating their lunch, arriving 5 to 10 minutes late and then getting side tracked with talks of Star Wars and comparing the merits of D&D 3.5 vs D&D 4e time flies by with very little actually being accomplished.

In the first session I had I don't think the players did more than select their theme points.  So much time was used describing the game and overall how things worked that the players were almost at a loss to decide the route they wanted to go.  Luckily one of the players has a 'de facto' build he always used when playing a new RPG so he knew what he wanted and I was able to easily guide him into the kind of path he'd want to take to make that character happen.  But still, selecting theme points, once you're familiar with the game, is only slightly more difficult than selecting your character's class in most other RPGs.  Ironically the choices that really decide the outcome of the character are usually simple and quick, and the choices that tend to be more trivial (e.g. what talents should I get or what skills do I want to know?) take a lot more time and generally have a lot less impact in the game.

Anyway getting back to it, once the theme was out of the way and the players had a better idea of what they wanted to make I was able to layout the resources used to build the them and what kind of decisions the players had to make.  From it I ended up creating a new document called 'How to make a character in CORPS' which is our first attempt at a user friendly guide that lists all the steps for making a character.  Prior to this we'd just gone through making them from memory and previous characters we'd made since we were able to turn a concept archetype into a character on paper in 30 to 45 minutes.  Going through with people unfamiliar with the game was a totally different ball game hell maybe even a game with no ball like hockey or bobsledding.  However with it, came a new outlook on things and great suggestions to help make the process easier in the future.

At the end of a couple sessions it was clear one character was making 3 combat / 1 general fighter type. Well in actuality he was a shirtless (yes he insisted his character would be shirtless) cowboy who was a bare knuckle boxer.  This was actually a great test for the limits of our system as quite a bit of debate among developers had arose from the decision on supporting a character who willing chose to fight unarmed.  One developer had at one point insisted that wielding weapons is ALWAYS better than not and that to accurately reflect fighting throughout history it should be considered inferior to be unarmed and therefore no one would want to do it in the game.  Of course I felt the view was a little narrow. People play tabletop games for a variety of reasons.  Some people like the combats, some like the social interaction and role playing, others enjoy living a life as an extraordinary character in extraordinary places.  Min-Maxing, while something I do enjoy in RPGs, isn't a must for everyone, and certainly didn't seem to be so for the player making his bare knuckled boxer.  This actually ended up leading to a few simple design changes which let us better support unarmed combat and make it fairly viable in the game.  I don't know if I'd go so far as to say it's optimal, but it's definitely viable.  Needless to say I wouldn't want to step into a ring with that guy even if I did have a sword or an ax.

It's really hard to say how such a character will pan out down the road.  To date, all testing in the game has revolved solely around level 1 characters while the other 9 levels are all theorycraft at this point.  We have it planned out, in great detail even, but how things will actually play out remain to be seen.  So thanks to that player's choice for creating a unique character type, we got to slightly tweak the CORPS system to better handle and easily allow the creation of such a character while still allowing them to contribute as much as a more common mainstream character.

The other player who had made good progress in making his character was going the magic route with a 3m / 1 Stealth caster.  His choice in spell spheres were a bit limited since we only have a little over half the spheres finished at this point, but still there are plenty of options in my opinion.  At the end of the day the player decided upon the warlock sphere.  This sphere deals primarily with crippling enemies with magic attack spells and/or killing them over time through corrosive and demonic curses.  I really felt the spell spheres had come together thus far as they had been streamlined over a series of iterations to essentially reveal two primary builds in each spell sphere.  In the case of the warlock sphere you had the warlock who focused on debilitating attacks and the other who focused on damage over time attacks.  Granted there are a lot more options within the sphere than just choice A or choice B.  In fact there are 42 spells in each spell sphere for a 3m caster and since you start out being able to only pick 6 of them and 1 armor type spell I think there is room for plenty of variation within any given spell sphere.

Getting back to the player, and one of the things that myself as a developer had failed to notice was the horrible format that the spells were being display in.  Primarily it was that each spell that did damage used a formula for determining what those damage values were based on level.  To me this made perfect sense but to player he said the looked like quadratic equations.  Shifting gears and trying to view things as a new player I could see what he meant.  Here is an example of one of the old spells.

Lifesteal (PE)
Keyword: Shadow, Fortify
Spell Type: Physical Effect
Area of Effect: Ranged 1 in 10
Duration: Immediate
Static Modifier:  Full
Crit Die: 2d8+1
Spell Effect:
          On hit target takes Xd10+Y+ Pr bonus shadow damage and the caster gains Z temporary hit points.  
          X = 1 + 1/3 * level  
            Y = 3 + 3/5 * level
            Z = 3 + 9/10 * level

Overcast: Add d10 extra damage for 2 PP.  At level 6 add 2d10 extra damage and increase the THP gained by one for 4 PP.

I had to laugh a little because it really did look intimidating, especially with a list of 42 and a few other perks and bonuses lying about all listing formulas that needed to be 'solved' in order to write it down on your character sheet.  We had originally done this because the developers were fearful of having too many charts.  Having seen how games like rolemasters and dare I say, the infamous F.A.T.A.L. went so overboard with charts as to make even the most experienced players groan in frustration and agony.  Still after stepping back from the problem another developer decided that having lots of small charts, namely for each spell, would be vastly better than having cryptic formula laid out detailing the correct values per level.  After the edit this is what spells look like now.

Lifesteal (PE)
Keyword: Shadow, Fortify
Spell Type: Physical Effect
Area of Effect: Ranged 1 in 10
Duration: Immediate
Static Modifier:  Full
Crit Die: 2d8+1
Spell Effect:
          On hit target takes shadow damage equal to the level chart below + Pr bonus.  The caster also gains a number of temporary hit points equal the level chart below.  

Level 1-5
Shadow Damage
Level 1-5
Temporary HP
Level 6-10
Shadow Damage
Level 6-10
Temporary HP

Overcast: Add d10 extra damage for 2 PP.  At level 6 add 2d10 extra damage and increase the THP gained by one for 4 PP.

Now the spell is much easier to read for a character when trying to figure out how much damage they'll do with a spell.  Got a level 1 character who knows lifesteal?  Damage is 1d10+3 + Pr bonus and you gain 3 temporary hit points.  No figuring out or rounding down fractions.  Another little improvement we made is we reduced the overall number of dice you'd be rolling when casting spells at higher levels.  It can still be a lot with certain powerful spells, but overall we reduced the absolute maximum number of dice you'd roll for a damage value from 10 to 8.  I know that probably doesn't sound impressive but across the boards the number of dice being rolled has been reduced by about 2.  The actual number of spells that will have you rolling 8 or even 6+ dice at level 10 are fairly limited.  By increase the static + damage to dice roll we're were trying to make it so that each level saw some gain in power.  Previously you'd have spells that didn't change for 2 or 3 levels and then jumped up by a d10 or d12 nearly doubling the damage of the spell the level before.  We wanted to avoid the drastic increases and opted for slower but more steady gains in spell power as the characters increased in level.  Overall I think it's a good change because people will still be able to feel some weight to their damage rolls (any gamer of dice will tell you this is a fun feeling) while not needing to make 12 different rolls for a single attack.  (that number is assuming a worst case along with a player only having 1 of a certain die size.  And I mean com'on honestly who only has 1 of each die size at a table top RPG???  An experience DM should easily be able to lend players 2 or 3 of any kind of die if needed.  Of course this is all in theory so I'm going to stop rambling now, especially in parentheses no less...)

In any case, while it's been fun finally taking some people not familiar with the CORPS system through the process of building characters it has also been a good learning exercise for the developers.  We've had a chance to further improve our system and hopefully make it more enjoyable for players who decide to tempt fate and roll the dice in the CORPS.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Meet Nuuk the Destroyer

Now that testing is underway and a lot of the combat processes in CORPS are looking promising I wanted to give people a taste of what a fully fleshed out character would look like and walk through the steps on how one would be created.  Obviously this wouldn't be the complete process since there's still content being worked on, such as character backgrounds but for one of our test characters, whose sole purpose is to kill things we figured we could show our readers just how badass the system can really be.

As a little forward, to keep track of our characters and their build we give them names that suit them.  In this case I'll be introducing one of our first attempts at a min-maxed melee fighter named Nuuk the Destroyer.  So first I'll go ahead and just show what a rough look of the character sheet would look like and then I'll break it down into sections and go through each one explaining them in better detail.

Quick Reference Info:

Character Name: Nuuk Race: Gryx
Theme Points (3/0/0/1) (C/S/M/G) Character Level: 1
Initiative: +6 Movement: 7 Vision: Low light
Saving Throws: +7/+6/+2  (F/R/W)

Defenses: AD: 21 UD: 18 PD:  18

Hit Points: 28 Bloodied: 14 Recovery: 10 (7+3) Wound: 3

Power Points: 21 Adrenaline Points: 3

The quick reference section is at the top of the sheet, it has a lot of important information and as we get into more testing will be expanding it to contain non-combat information such as height, weight, gender, all of that kind of stuff that you'd care about if you were playing a real RPG.  Since this character fights simulated battles in an area environment we don't have it stated, but if his attributes were a hint, he'd be a big beastly gryx, who is very quick and fairly intuitive.

So to start we have the character name which is, Nuuk, cause he's a killer.  The race is a Gryx, which if you'd happened across the previous character races post that included Gryx, you'd know they are pretty much savage orcs.  Although they closer identify with an orc from World of Warcraft rather than say D&D.  Next are theme points which is the first thing a player will choose to truly define their character.  These theme points can be invested in Combat, Stealth, Magic or General.  The first 3 can have a maximum of 3 points assigned to them while general can only have 1 point assigned to it.  Each character is allowed 4 points to decide how they want to place them.  Nuuk went with 3 points in combat and 1 point in general.  This would be a well rounded fighter, a soldier whose training relied on all things combat related and had training in a great deal of skills, both combat and non-combat related.

Themes, beyond dictating a character's focus and build also include thematic bonuses depending on how heavily they invest in a given theme.  (This is discussed in more detail in the abilities section) Nuuk gets 3 combat theme points to invest in what kind of combat build he wants to go with.  The options for combat themes are Weapon Specialization (more damage with weapons), Guardian's Mark (defensive ability to help protect allies) and Juggernaut (built in damage resistance).  Since Nuuk loves to kill things, he invested all 3 points in weapon specialization to increase his weapon damage as much as he possibly could.  General doesn't have any direct combat bonus but it does increase the number of skills a character can learn as well as a few other perks such as being able to learn additional encounter powers.

Next is the character level, which is simply 1 for testing sake.  Currently our plans are to make this a 10 level system, at least for players, monster can probably go up to as high as level 14.  Who knows if this game takes off maybe we'll have to come out with an expansion that raises the level cap :)  Now combat the combat related information.  Initiative is used at the start of combat to determine who goes in what order. The system is setup so that combat is broken down into rounds, and in each round all creatures and characters will get one or more turns.  In a turn a character gets 3 actions, a standard, move and minor.  They can be taken in any order but only one at time.  Actions can be down graded, so a standard can be used as a move or minor and a move can be used as a minor action.  Next is vision, which is based on race usually.  This just means that Nuuk gets no penalty in low lightning.

Getting down to the nuts and bolts of it we have Saving Throws.  A throwback to some d20 systems we have 3 saving throw values.  Fortitude, Reflex and Will.  These are based on a combination of attributes and the distribution of your theme points.  Since combat influences fortitude, it is his best saving throw value.  Next are the defenses, which we have listed in shorthand as AD, UD and PD, which stand for active defense, unarmed defense and passive defense.  Physical attacks, I.E. non-magical attacks, will always target one of these defenses based on the situation.  There is technically a fourth defense, Ranged Defense, but since Nuuk is wielding a 2 handed axe (as shown later on) his ranged defense is the same as his passive defense.

Last in the quick reference section are hit points, power points and adrenaline points.  This can simply be thought of as health, mana and special powers.  Hit points are also broken down into bloodied, recovery and wound.  Each is 1/2 the value of the previous.  So with 28 hit points, Nuuk has a bloodied value of 14.  This is primarily used as a trigger for certain abilities both for characters as well as for monsters.  Recovery value is 1/2 of the players bloodied value and is used in conjunction with healing, both in and out of combat.  Nuuk has a talent that increases his recovery value by 3 so he'll gain back 10 hp at a time instead of 7 when healing.  Lastly there is the wound value.  Simply put, wounds are a bitch.  CORPS has a harsh critical system.  It is a double edged sword that can cut both ways.  As apart of that cutting enemies and characters can suffer wounds.  For characters this means that their maximum hit points is reduced by their wound value (1/2 their unmodified recovery value) for each wound they suffer.  If a character suffers 8 wounds they die.  Unlike normal hit points being lost, wounds can only be healed given proper rest and medical care, not something that can usually be come by when adventuring out on the road or trapped down in the depths of a dungeon.

Power points represent the characters ability to harness and focus magical energy.  They are considered a daily resource because a character will replenish their power points given a days rest.   They can be used to activate encounter powers, heal out of combat or cast magical spells if the character has any theme points invested in magic.  After a successful encounter, a character will recover 10% of their maximum power points as reward.  Adrenaline points at a bit different.  These represent the characters ability to make shit happen in the heat of the moment.  When the adrenaline is pumping, these points are used to perform fantastic deeds or empower magic spells.  Adrenaline points, or AP are usable only in combat, however each time you start a combat you start with your maximum.  Either use 'em or lose 'em.


18 (26)
12 (4)
9 (0)
15 (10)
9 (0)
9 (0)
Self Discipline
9 (0)
11 (2)

Attributes play an important part in the development of a player character in CORPS. There are 8 attributes roughly broken down into 4 physical and 4 mental attributes. Similar to D20 systems characters get bonus the higher their attributes at. Since these attributes play such an important role in this system wanted to keep them consist by using a point buy system for players to purchase the values they want. Using traditional random generation could lead to a character that is much stronger than expected, or one that is terribly weak depending on extreme rolls one way or the other. While we might eventually have rules for it, currently we only are having PCs purchase their attributes.

In a previous post I discussed the different attributes and what they mean to a character. In this example of a min-max character it's easy to see that Nuuk has heavily invested points in strength and quickness, two skills key to combat. The first column lists each of the 8 attributes while the second column shows each base value purchased by Nuuk. The value in parentheses is the number of attribute points it costs to purchase that value. All characters start out with 42 points with which to purchase attributes. The attribute point cost table can be found here. The third column is racial bonuses. Each race gets a certain number of bonus points they can use to increase any attribute(s) they want. Most races have some attributes they always get bonuses to in addition to what can be picked. Players can only get up to a +2 in any given attribute from their race. Gryx are naturally strong intuitive creatures so all gryx get a +1 to strength and a +1 to Intuition. Gryx also get 2 additional points they can put into any attribute. In this case Nuuk choose to get +2 to strength, 1 naturally and one by choice, a +1 to quickness and the natural +1 to intuition. The fourth column is Nuuks final attribute value at level 1 (just combines base and race bonuses) If he had any items or effects that increased he attributes those would be added here as well. In the last column are the bonus values Nuuk gets to each skill. These bonuses are used when making skill checks, during combat, or whenever a situation arises where Nuuk is put to a challenge.


Great Ax (Weighted) AoE:Melee 1 in melee Attack: 2d12+9 Crit:  2d12

Basic Attack: 2d10 + 16

Finishing Blow:   2d10 + 31 (Push 1) [Requires: bloody target]

Crowd Sweeper (Snap): (Burst 3 in melee)  3d10+18 (Push 2)

Hand Ax (Heavy) (0/5/10)

Attack roll: 2d12+9

Damage roll: 2d6 + 13  [crit 2d6]

Light Crossbow (Simple) (10/20/40)

Attack roll: 2d12+7
Damage roll: 2d8 + 3 [crit 2d8]

Now we get to the meat of Nuuk. Attacks. Killing. Maiming and slaughtering. These are things that Nuuk does best. Nuuks primary weapon is a great ax. With it he beheads his enemies. The attacks are broken down into 4 basic parts. Area of effect or AoE, attack roll, damage roll and crit roll. Magic spells can vary a lot more depending on the spells being used but Nuuk cares nothing for magic tricks. His ax does the talking.

On the character sheet the attacks are easy to read. In this case they broken down by weapon since Nuuk carries 3 different weapons there are 3 different groups of attacks. His primary weapon, his great ax. It's area of effect is a melee 1 in melee meaning that this is a melee attack that can target 1 creature within the melee range of the weapon which is 1 square for the great ax. All attacks share this kind of terminology because attacks can vary greatly on the type of attack and number of targets that they can affect. Next the attack roll is a 2d12 roll + 9. Some of you might recall that CORPS uses 2d12 as it's primary method of rolling dice. Most characters will usually have an attack roll at level 1 of 2d12+9 if they are focusing in a single primary attack, which is generally recommended. Nuuk is using a great ax which is a heavy weapon. This means that it uses his strength attribute for both attack and damage but only uses 2/3 of his strength attribute rounded to hit with and 3/2 his strength attribute for damage. Since he has a +6 strength bonus this means he gets a +4 to hit and a massive +9 to damage from his strength attribute. He is also trained with his great ax which gives another +4 to hit. Lastly he has the counterweight talent which gives him a +1 to hit with heavy weapons giving a combined total of a +9 to hit. Most enemies at level will be rocking about an 18 active defense meaning that Nuuk wouldn't only need a 9 or higher on a 2d12 to hit. That's a little of an 80% chance to hit. The game is designed so that characters can will usually fight monsters between 1 level below their level and up to about 4 levels above their level. We also realize that missing with attacks sucks. It's no fun. It slows down combat and is generally a downer when it happens too often. Most combats should see players hitting on average about 65% of the time, meaning more hits and crits.

The crown jewel of Nuuk's attack is the massive amount of damage he can dish out. Nuuk's basic attack does weapon damage + 16. Since he uses a great ax, his weapon damage is 2d10. Since it's a heavy weapon he gets that huge +9 bonus damage from his strength. Next Nuuk gets a +5 to his primary weapon, the great ax, because of his 3 combat theme points he invested into weapon specialization. He gets another +1 to damage from selecting the advanced Zweihander weapon style (more about that in the abilities section) and finally a +1 bonus to damage from the talent Aspect of War: Rage (described in more detail in the talents section). All in all an impressive 2d10+16 mean that Nuuk could do up to 36 points of damage with an average damage of 22. Nuuk only has 28. Another aspect of CORPS is that players tend to have lower hit points and do more damage while enemies have higher hit points and do less damage. A typical level 1 monster would have around 42 hit points. Even so, on average Nuuk would kill a creature in two hits.
The last part of the attack is also perhaps the most exciting and that is the critical roll. A critical hit results any time a player rolls a natural 12 on either of their attack dice. If a player rolls 2 12s in a single roll then it counts as a double crit. When a character gets a critical hit they do max damage with the (36 in Nuuk's case with a basic attack) and then on top of that also get to make a new roll called a critical roll. Since Nuuk is using a great ax, he gets to roll another 2d12 for his critical roll. A thief using a dagger would only get to roll something like 2d6 for a critical roll. The value of the roll is then used to look up on a critical chart which applies a number of different debilitating conditions. A character can have something a mild as being knocked off their feet or pushed back 5 feet or severe as getting wounded and stunned and in extreme cases even instant death. Yes, instant death. Combat is serious business in CORPS.

The other two attacks listed under Nuuk's great ax are special powers he perform at the cost of an adrenaline point. Since he has 3, he could perform either of those abilities up to 3 times in a single combat. Finishing blow does a massive amount of damage but requires that the target is bloodied meaning at least 1/2 their hit points are missing. The second attack is a snap attack meaning that it does 1/2 damage, but it's a burst 3 in melee. That means the attack can target up to 3 targets that are within melee range. Creatures that are hit can be pushed back up to 2 squares or 10 feet. With how tactical combat is we're designing the game to be played on a squared battle grid with each square grid counting as 5'. We had looked at alternative rules for playing without the mat but there are still a few details to work out concerning how that would play out.

Nuuk's other attacks are both ranged attacks with a throwing axe and cross bow respectively. Sadly Nuuk can hurl a hand axe with greater force and accuracy than he can shoot a light crossbow bolt, but the crossbow has much greater range. The 3 range values are short, medium and long range of the weapon. Short range is considered a normal ranged attack while medium range is a -2 to the attack roll. A long ranged attack is disadvantaged meaning that a character must roll 3d12 and has to keep the lowest two d12s rolled.

Abilities, Knacks and Encounter powers:


Advanced Weapon Specialization (Greataxe) [+5 primary] / [+3 all] (Feature/Talent)

+5 Combat talent Points (Racial)

Cut to the Chase:   Charge is a standard action (Racial)

Measured Charge:  Charging doesn’t force use of PD, OA’s on charge vs AD (Talent)

Weapon Styles:
Zweihander:  +1 damage with 2H weapons

Langekampf:  All AP knacks add push 1

Weapon Skills:
Unarmed (T)
Heavy (T)
Ranged (T)


General:  Dedicated Attacks (Increase damage of all knack attacks by 2)

Restricted 1:  Finishing Blow (+13 damage vs bloodied target, push 1)
Restricted 2:  Crowd Sweeper (Burst 3 in X melee snap + push 2)

Encounter Powers:

Blood Rage (Racial - Free):

Once per encounter on your turn you gain an extra move action, and during your turn any skill check that uses the strength stat gains advantage.

Surge:  (1 AP or 5 PP)

Spend a move action to make a normal weapon attack.

Blood Spray:  (1 AP or 5 PP)

When you bloody an enemy you may make a basic attack against the same enemy as a free action and add +6 bonus damage.

This section of the character sheet covers all of the special abilities of the character. If Nuuk had any degree of magic to his name this section would also list known spells for the character in addition to what is already listed here. While the attacks section has a quick hand version for attack roll, damage and critical, this section gives a little more detail if any is needed about each of the attacks or powers. The abilities list has an entry for every ability, passive or active that the character has. Abilities are just something is always available to the character. Some abilities are active which means they have some kind of activation cost but can be used repeatedly. Other abilities just provide a permanent passive benefit. In Nuuk's case all of his abilities are passive. For clarity, at the end of each ability I added where that ability was coming from.

Advanced Weapon Specialization is one of the 3 combat features you can pick from when you invest theme points in combat. At level 1 you get 1 feature point for each theme point invest. After that you roughly get an additional feature point at odd levels. The system is built so that by the time a character reaches max level they'll have earned 9 feature points if they have 3 theme points invested in a theme. If a character only had 1 theme point invested in a theme then by max level they'd only have 3 feature points. Nuuk was built with damage in mind so he placed all 3 feature points into weapon specialization which increases the damage he does with his primary weapon by +4 damage and increases the other weapons by +2. He also has selected the talent advanced specialization which increases the damage bonus of weapon specialization by 1 giving him a +5/+3 based on the weapon he is using. Nuuk like's big weapons so he uses a 2 handed great ax as his primary weapon.

The +5 combat talent points and cut to the chase are two racial bonuses all gryx characters get. Since the gryx are a very combat oriented society they naturally get 5 additional combat talent points. The talent point system mirrors the theme system. That is to say that talents belong to one or more categories, combat, stealth, magic or general. You get 10 times the number of theme points you invest as talent points at level one. All characters also automatically start with 10 general talent points. This means that Nuuk gets 30 combat talent points and 20 general talent points(10 starting + 10 for the 1 point in general). Since he's a gryx he instead gets 35 combat talent points. In the talent section below you can see what talents Nuuk selected, what their cost was and a brief description of what the talent does.

Cut to the chase is a racial benefit that affects a combat mechanic known as charge. All characters have the option to perform a charge attack. A charge allows a character to use their full action to move up to their speed and make a basic attack with a +1 to hit. A full action means that both the characters move and standard actions are used, but can be done with only a standard action. This means a character could move their full movement then charge with their standard action to cover a large distance. The biggest downside about charging however is that you must use you passive defense until the start of your next turn. Essentially a charge is increased mobility and offensive capabilities at the cost of your defense. Because Nuuk is a gryx, he his charge action only costs a standard action. This means that he could charge someone, kill them, then use his move action to close on another enemy. Nuuk's last ability, measured charge, is a talent that helps support his natural ability to charge by allowing Nuuk to use his active defense during and after a charge. Normally characters to who provoke opportunity attacks from moving, have that attack going against their passive defense. If Nuuk is charging he can still use his active defense.

Weapon styles is an option characters get depending on how many ranks they invest in the combat or stealth themes. Characters get between 0 and 2 weapon styles depending on their theme investment. Since Nuuk has 3 theme points in combat he gets 2 advanced weapon styles which have passive benefits when he is using a particular type of weapon. Both the Zweihander and Langekampf styles benefit 2 handed weapons. One gives a passive +1 to damage with 2 handed weapons and the other allow powers activated by adrenaline points to also push creatures 1 square.

Weapon styles also give characters access to specific weapon knacks. At level 1, being a 3 combat, Nuuk gets 1 general knack and 2 advanced knacks. There are a list of general knacks and the advanced knacks you can pick from are dependent on what weapon styles you pick. If Nuuk had picked something like dual wielding and paired weapons for his weapon styles, he would have had a different list of knacks to choose from. Each of the knacks have a brief description as to what they do. As you can see, the knacks from the advanced weapon styles are powers that require adrenaline points to use. These are the powers we already went over in the attacks section.

In addition to weapon styles are weapon skills. Weapon skills are simply a high level of what kinds of weapons a character is trained with. The more theme points in the combat or stealth themes the more weapon skills you start with. To keep this simple all weapons belong to one of five weapon groups. Light, Heavy, Ranged, Unarmed and Polearm. As we can see on the sheet, Nuuk is trained with Heavy, Unarmed and Ranged weapons.

The last part of this section are encounter powers. These are special powers that require 5 power points or 1 adrenaline point to activate and can be used once per encounter. There are also daily powers, which can only be used once per day but they basically share the same space.  Normally a character at level 1 is allowed two encounter slots.  An encounter power takes up 1 slot while a daily power takes up 2 slots.  If you invest 1 theme point in general, you get an extra encounter slot.  Since Nuuk has 1 theme point in general he is allowed 3 encounter slots.  This means that if he wanted to, Nuuk could have up to 3 encounter powers or 1 encounter and 1 daily power.  Since Nuuk spent his talent points on other things he only purchased 2 encounter powers which were Blood Spray and Surge, both good offensive options.  Being a gryx also gives him access to Blood Rage with is a gryx racial encounter power.  Because he gets this power as a result of his race, it doesn't take up an encounter slot or cost anything to activate in combat.



Advanced Specialization (5c) [+1 to primary and secondary weapon damage]

Counterweight (5c)

Armor of the Northmen (10c) [Use Str for armor, 1/2 Qu]

Measured Charge (5c) [No PD on charge, OA’s vs active]

Aspect of War: Rage  (5c) [+1 to damage with heavy weapons. Gain the ability to purchase rage talents]

Aspect of War:  Blood Spray - Encounter  (5c) [Gain the encounter power Blood Spray:]

Surge (10 g) - Encounter [Grants the Surge Encounter Power]

Improved Recovery (5g) [Increases the number of hit points gained by your Rapid and Restful Recovery by 3 + 1/2 your level]

Quick Draw (5g) [draw weapons and items for free as part of another action.]

Talents have already been covered in enough detail previously in this post so I'll just continue on to skills.


Skills:  16 / 16  
Alertness (1)
Survival (1)
Search (1)
Tracking (2)
Athletics (2)
Tumbling (1)
Balance (1)
Stalking & Hiding (2)
First Aid (1)
Warfare (1)
Nature (1)
Intimidate (2)
For skills we had made a number of iterations from where we started to where we are today.  Skills originally were based very closely off of skill progression from games like Role-Masters where there are a myriad of skills available.  But after some time we realized having a shoe tying skill or underwater basket weaving skill really wasn't necessary so over the course of time have revamped and condensed the skills and the method in which people obtain them.  We used to have a rank progression for skills where each level players could choose to advance the skills they wanted to keep high while going back and forth between other skills that maybe weren't so as important to them.  This kind of system allows from some interesting character development as well as giving players a chance to easily pick up new skills as their priorities and focuses change.  Of course the horrible downside is complexity and the threat of character's falling behind in effectiveness if they aren't constantly honing their best skills.

After some debating and thinking we finally agreed on a method where all character skills belonged to 1 of 3 states.  These states are, untrained, familiar and trained.  When a character is made they get 12 skill points to purchase skills they want.  It simply costs 1 skill point to become familiar and 2 skill points to become trained.  Characters have access to all skills allowing any character to become familiar or trained in anything.  We went this route because even though players select their character's theme, this is technically a classless system.  So just because someone went 3c/1m while another went 3c/1s doesn't mean necessarily that the 1s can't know skills related to magic or the 1m guy knowing skills related to being sneaky.  There are some limitations to this however and that comes in the form of a soft cap on the maximum number of skills a character can be trained it.

The skills are divided into 6 categories with each category containing 5 skills.  Each of the categories then belong to a theme, combat, stealth or magic.  For example Environmental and Physical skills belong to the combat theme, Subterfuge and Social skills belong to the stealth them while Skilled Knowledge and General Knowledge belong to the magic theme.  The maximum number of skills a character can be trained in is based off of 1 + number of theme points in that category.  If a character has 1 point in general then they can increase the number of trained skills that can learn in all categories by 1.  They also get 4 additional skill points meaning they get 16 skill points at level 1 rather than just 12.  In Nuuks case, he can become trained in up to 5 (3+1+1) combat skills, 2 stealth skills and 2 magical skills.  There is no limit to the number of skills a character can become familiar with.  We feel this kind of a system allows people to pick the skills they want for whatever kind of character they have in mind but it also respects a character as based on their theme.  That is to say a stealthy rogue who is a 3s/1g build will be able to be trained in more stealth based skills than any other type of character.  Now there could be some 3c/1s who is maybe trained in the Social Skill: Sense Motive and is better at it then the 3s/1g guy, but generally speaking if you are building a 3s/1g, you'll be one of the best characters at things like Stalking and Hiding and Prestidation.  There is also a good chance you'd have training in things like Duping, Gather Rumors or Intimidation as well.  Of course such a character could also invest in knowledge skills such as First Aid or physical skills such as Balance or Athletics.  It all depends on what kind of character a player wants to make which is exactly what we were aiming for by making CORPS a classless system.


Common (Trained)

Gryx (Familiar)

Languages are a unique part of skills that we originally had rolled in with skills but later decided to break it out into its own thing.  Our reason for this was that if you give people the option to choose their own skills, you don't want someone to make their character and after the fact realize they invested nothing in their character's ability to speak or read.  Sure he can haggle with the best of them but he doesn't know a single language.  It's a design with a silly pitfall. If you don't want characters with the ability to have absolutely no language capabilities you should give people a method for doing it.  Thus we moved skills into it's own section and people start with a basic set of language skills.

Another thing to consider is that, as a gaming system we expect at some point that someone could put these core rules into another setting or a custom campaign.  This can mean new and unique races each with their own unique language.  To handle that we wanted to keep the language system very dynamic.  This mean that we didn't have a hard coded set of languages.  Rather we make assumptions which can be expanded to tweaked according to the campaign.  In what would be CORPS' default campaign we make the assumption that there is a universal 'common' language.  This could be anything, but for the sake of the campaign it would represent the character's starting locality or perhaps starting nationality.  So if a campaign was centered in a fantasy version of the United States of America you could say that the common language is English.  Just about anywhere you go, you'd be able to get by using the common speech.  Another assumption is that each high level race, each race of intelligent beings would have their own language.  In Nuuks case this means that we can assume there is a racial gryx language.  Given these assumptions its easy to see this is why Nuuk is trained in common and familiar with gryx.  This could be because while he is racially a gryx he may have grown up in a human city and thus knows the common tongue better then his own native tongue.  This usually true for most second or third generation immigrants in the U.S. today.

Characters get a number of language points based on their race. If a character is familiar with a language they are able to speak the language, albeit at a rather elementary level. They are not able to write or read the language. If a character is trained in a language they are able to read and write the language and speak fluently. As a character gains levels they may use their skill points to learn new languages. When a character spends 1 SP they gain 2 Language Points (which allows them to fluently learn a single language or become familiar with two different languages).



Great Axe

2 Hand Axes

Light Crossbow

Plate Armor

Traveler's Kit

1 Week’s Rations

Equipment is pretty dry at this point in time.  Since we're in the process of testing combat we mostly only have weapons and armors created.  There are notes on other things, food, water, shelter, traveling animals, clothing and the like but it's still being put together.  For the purpose of combat only weapons and armor have an impact so that's all we've focused on. There are also works for magical items of course but Nuuk doesn't have any of those :)

Anyway if you've managed to go this far I hope you've enjoyed being able to go through a character in CORPS.  As I mentioned I am very excited by the progress we're making and all the interesting and unique combinations available in the game.  Hopefully as we progress towards taking on more games, allowing new people to play and run CORPS we'll have a better idea of how well the game is received.    If things go really well you might just see us up on Kickstarter or the like soon trying to get out to the public.  For now it's still just our little pet project.

If you'd like to see the character sheet on a simple PDF you can download it here.