Tuesday, September 24, 2013

CORPS 3.0! Wait no, 2.5? Eh, Why Not?

Development has continued on with the CORPS (also comically referred to as CORPSE (combat oriented role playing system EXTREME) to the point where we have evolved from 2.0 and moved on to 3.0. As with any of our core game changing implementations we felt it best to increment the internal version number of our game for tracking purposes and because everyone who has a hand in this is a computer programmer and that is just what programmers do. However we quickly found out that the proposed changes introduced in 3.0 cause some major problems in the existing system that frankly, we didn't want to touch with a 10 foot pole. So our solution was to simply revert back to 2.0 but we felt that 3.0 had a lot of good things to offer the game as well. So in the end we called it 2.5. We made some interesting changes from the game setting it apart from just another d20 game or a D&D clone while at the same time further streamlining aspects of the game that were making it more complex than it needed to. So now that I've cryptically gone through CORPS' most recent changes at a high level view, I am sure that one reader who mistaken stumbled upon this site accidently when trying to look up what corpse munging means is curious what exactly some of those changes entail. Well I'm feeling good so I think I'll share.

One of the first big changes made in CORPS 2.5 was streamlining the dice rolls. In some of our play testing we realized it was a little confusing to have a vast number of different rolls. A single character could have a d20+d4+7 melee attack roll, a normal d20+6 ranged attack roll, a reflex saving throw of d20+d8+3 and a will saving throw d20+d4+6. All those different dice you got to roll can get pretty confusing to keep track of, and this only got worse at high levels because some skills would be advanced, increasing up to a d20+d12 while other skills maybe never be increased beyond a simple d20 or d20+d4. So to streamline this we decided to try and keep most of the rolls stay the same. This is pretty much a staple of a d20 game, thus d20 is used for nearly everything. However everyone working on CORPS hates d20s, they are over played, so we said F*#$ it and removed them from the game. Now in place of a d20 + dX we have all dice roles set as 2d12. THAT'S RIGHT, we just took the red headed step child dice among most of RPGs and turned it into our staple dice for the entire game. That's how awesome we are. That combined with a few other quality of life changes has us retesting and reevaluating the material we already have.

Some other overviews to the game, we're still supporting a classless level based system. We like the idea of a classless system because it allows players to form an idea in their head of what kind of character they'd want to play then give them the tools to build something as close to that as possible. There are still some limitations of course, mainly in the realm of spell casters, but overall I feel we've done a good job in providing a lot of different viable options. As I had mentioned the issue with spell casters is that we currently have a sphere based system. That is to say, when a character assigns theme points (I'm pretty sure I mentioned theme points in an earlier post, but if not, there are 4 theme points to assign in 10 slots that determine the type of build your character is. There are 3 categories of spell casters to make the ability of assigning 1 to 3 theme points towards magic. Obviously assigning 0 means your character has no natural magical affinity, but if you have 1 or more you can choose a minor, lesser or greater spell sphere. Currently we have plans for 2 minor, 6 lesser and 6 greater spell spheres. The limiting factor at this point is the sphere itself. Even though there are still multiple build options within a sphere, once you pick a sphere you are limited to spells within the sphere. An example might be the priest sphere. Even though we have a classless system, if you allocate 3 theme points towards magic and pick the priest sphere, it's pretty easy to assume you're playing some kind of magical priest. Granted there are 42 different spells in the sphere and at most a high level player will only be able to pick from 15 of them so it leaves a lot of room for variation, but still it's pretty easy to assume your character can be classified as a priest. It may just be the name of the spheres at the moment though. We are basically usually class names commonly used in other role playing systems to roughly define the spheres of magic we want to include in the game. Down the road if we change the sphere names to something more related to an aspect rather than a commonly conceptualized character class, it might force players to think more about what their character really is to them.

Going back to the Priest Sphere, I think calling it something like the Divine sphere would allow players break away from any preconceived notions about what a Priest may be in their minds. In a game that has a very similiar look and feel of something like D&D 4e, using terms that overlap such as a Priest, can set the player up with certain expectations like having the iconic D&D ability to "Turn Undead". If someone is set on having a character that does this, they may be disappointed to learn that the Priest Sphere in CORPS is not the same thing as say a Priest in Dungeons and Dragons. Perhaps this is something that will get worked out when we actually get down to the nitty gritty of constructing a player's book for the game system itself rather than the manual of rules and how to play documents we currently use now.

There a few other technical changes that are pretty significant to the game play but since no one reading this has played the game it'd be kinda of waste to go into them at any level of detail. That said however, internal testing is going very well and I hope to be able to run some play tests with outside testers at some point in the near future. Another CORPS developer has been running games about once a month with a group who is about to hit level 2, which is pretty monumental for the game. So that leaves me to working towards gathering up a group of players and trying to sit down and hack out a gaming session out of this to see how it turns out. To the few who actually visit this page, from time to time if you or anyone you know is interested in trying out a virtual online gaming session of CORPS let me know and perhaps we can schedule a time try it. Although I might fall out of my chair if I actually hear back on that. Also if anyone has some particular question about the game itself, what has been explained or perhaps left in the dark, I'm always up for discussing my thoughts on the game design process.

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