This post continues from “Everyone Gets To Play,” and discusses some of the mechanics that will be used to make my game “eminently playable.” With bounded accuracy making it possible to hit anything and power sources opening multiple paths, there are several mechanics for fine-tuning play-ability.

Different Defenses
There are four unique defenses with varying degrees of importance based on circumstances, and with completely different methods for improvement — whether it comes down to ability scores, races, equipment, and combat roles.

It should be noted that hit points (hp) are considered a defense — the “last” defense, as it were — while Armor (AC) is the first. Being the most common, it’s also the easiest to modify. Light armor stacks with Dexterity, while heavy armor displaces it — armor is +0/+2/+3 for light, and +6/+7/+8 for heavy.

Shields — a type of handheld weapon — can be used to improve a character’s Reflex defense, which is normally modified only by Intelligence. Wisdom modifies Mettle, and Charisma modifies Resolve. And that’s all there is to it, really.

Similar to previous editions of D&D — and unlike 4e — there is only one ability in to each defense ‘out’ (saves in previous editions). Circumstances may change this, but they will be rare. Beyond ability scores, there is always the opportunity for a racial bonus to defense — but never more than say, a lonely +1.

Well, not unless the bonus is against a specific attack or effect type.

Finally, bonuses to each defense will rise from combat roles — and these are dependable, and always the same — strikers gain a +2 bonus to Reflex, defenders gain a +2 bonus to Mettle, leaders gain a +2 bonus to Resolve, and controllers will gain a +1 bonus to each Reflex, Mettle, and Resolve.

While monsters will tend to have similar defense scores across the board, this approach will go a long way to making characters with outstanding abilities stand out, while enabling players to assign priority to shoring up specific weaknesses.

Going back to the power sources concept — certain effects will be organized and consistently target the same defenses. Traps (mechanical ones, anyhow) will almost always target Reflex, while effects like mind control and forced movement (and a few others) will almost exclusively target Mettle.

Each defense will have a specific use, enabling players to plan around them.

Damage Reduction
Have you ever played a game where you struck a creature for “zero damage?” Was it perhaps an entry in the Diablo series? If you have felt the sting of your weapons or spells dealing no damage to enemies, then I feel for you. I really do.

Forget that noise.

I don’t care how many myths and legends there are about monsters and gods being totally impervious to weapons or fire or cold, or whatever. That is just not fun to play with — basically ever. I don’t care, and you can’t make me care.

There will be no “damage immunity” whatsoever.

Resistance on the other hand, will be plentiful — and it will always be the same. Half damage from the specified damage source. Why have all resistance operate this way? Because it’s easy to remember and use. Resistance never stacks…

…Without some kind of special feature. There’s always an exception, right? Well, there’s a very good reason to retain one very specific type of damage immunity — and that is “no damage on a miss.” This will come up with minion rules, and will be available to PCs who gain the same resistance from two or more sources.

Minions, swarms, and tiny creatures will all benefit from some specific rules — which are still in development and might well change once I take another turn at them — allowing them to avoid damage under very specific circumstances.

In all cases, that will be turning “miss damage” into “no damage.” And since anything can be hit, that means that nothing will be immune to damage. This will almost always be a passive trait — entirely up to the defender to remember.

This rounds out many of the core systems that will effect balance in favor of “everyone playing.” Whether your abilities are good or bad, there will be a way to compensate for them — whether through race, class, or equipment — then it’s up to the players to apply them. There’s only so much a designer can do.