Tactics (Part 3)

It’s Friday, everyone. Let’s take a closer look at tactics.

A couple of weeks ago, I guided you through some of my influences when designing tactical play for RPGs. Last week, we took a look at some sizes, spaces, and how creatures move and interact with space in Delve. This week, we are going to talk a bit more about movement and special states in regards to tactical play.

So, as I stated last week, Delve has a few differences to the way it treats the grid. First, each square is a meter (or a yard if you are stuck on the Imperial System), and your Speed is always expressed in squares. There is no particular rule for diagonal movement, though I will have a sidebar if you’re really stuck on Pythagoras.States

Another key difference is there is no “flanking” in Delve. That is, the position of a foe is not as important as how many creatures are Engaged with an enemy. How do you determine Engagement? A creature is Engaged as long as they are within reach of an enemy that is wielding at least one weapon (which includes shields) or that has at least one hand free. If a creature is Engaged by three or more creatures, it becomes Vulnerable. Both Engaged and Vulnerable are states Delve. So let’s take a look at those.

Of course, there are exceptions to both Engaged and the Vulnerable state. For instance, one of the rogue’s entrance talents is Dirty Fighting.

Dirty Fighting

Keep in mind, that unlike flat-footed, Vulnerable is not a relative state. When a creature is Vulnerable, it is Vulnerable to all of its enemies. And of course, some creatures are harder to make vulnerable, for instance, a dragon, and many other massive and powerful creatures have this ability (or a variation of this ability).

Massive

There are, of course, other ways to become Engaged and Vulnerable. Curses might make a creature vulnerable or engaged. Another class that I’m working on (and chosen by one of Delvers over at the Patreon) is the hunter. Here is one of that class’s entry talents (which also serves as a requirement if you decide to multiclass into Hunter).

Designate Quarry

 

A later talent also makes the hunter’s quarry engaged by the hunter while she is using a ranged weapon. This allows the hunter’s allies more significant tactical advantage while the hunter casually flings arrows from a distance.

Of course, this is all just the tip of the iceberg for the ebb and flow of combat. Warriors have higher-level abilities that limit the maneuverability of creatures that are Engaged by them. Spellcasters have access to summoned creatures, and often the more, the merrier, as they can engage foes and make them vulnerable. And there are also general talents like Faithful Hound, that grants you a pet. Delve’s Iconic rogue has one (a rough and tumble hound named Tojo), who aids in her quest to exploit the Vulnerability of her enemies.

In the end, Engaged and Vulnerable are just a few of the building blocks that allow robust and exciting tactical choices within the game’s combat scheme.

Housekeeping

I’m happy to say that, at the time of publishing, we are up to 47 backers on the Delve Patreon site. Thank you to all those who have backed the project. This week I’ve been busy with a handful of freelance projects, but as soon as they are done, I’m back on the Proto draft of the rules.

Speaking of that draft, I’m happy to announce that I’ve ordered the first artwork for the game. Those of you who have played Delve at the various conventions I’ve attended have seen the prototype artwork for the Delve iconics, those will all be scrapped for actual artwork of Ez Shadowalker (and her hound, Tojo), Brumtha Doomhammer, Doma Doomhammer, Craw Sharpeye, Geldon Brighbrow, and Thillion Whiteraven—the heroes of the Grey Coast! I’ve also ordered a half-page piece as the Chapter 1: Start opener.

CaveEntrence
Just a sample of Rick’s Stock Art, this one comes from Publisher’s Choice Black & White: Lich King Cave Pack.

As for art direction, it’ll be in a classic black and white style with some modern twists. I just like that aesthetic and it works for the feel I’m trying to give the game. And the lovely and talented Rick Hersey had precisely the style I was looking for. You can check out his artwork on the Fat Goblin Facebook page, and through DriveThruRPG, where Rick is having a 50% sale on his stock art ending Sunday, I believe. If you want to delve deeper into Rick’s work, he also has a pretty cool Patreon. The more I become acquainted with Rick and his work, the more I’m sure that the art style of Delve will be focused on his style.

Again, thank you to all my Patreon backers. This progress would not be possible if it were not for your generous support of Delve!

Lastly, I will be on the Wizards of the Couch show this coming Monday. Joining me will be my wonderful partner Beth Damis, who is the CFO of Penny Arcade (yes, that Penny Arcade). We will be talking about our experiences in gaming and in the industry of geek, as well as the Acquisitions Inc., D&D book produced by Penny Arcade for Wizards of the Coast, Delve, and Pathfinder Second Edition. I hope to see some of you on the feed, and if you miss it, I’ll post a link on the Interviews and Articles page of this website.

Interesting Stuff

I often find interesting bits of news and other projects on the internet, so I decided to add another occasional subhead to the Delve blog. When I find something that I think is particularly interesting, I’ll post it here. I will also have a summary of any links on a new page of the website called—you guessed it—Interesting Stuff.

First up—my friend and intellectual property lawyer, Robert Bodine, received a cease and desist letter from WotC regarding his One-Stop Stat Block for 5th Edition DND Template. And the message came from Marty Durham at Wizards (who is also a friend of mine). Robert posted the first part of—well—retort, I guess you can call it, on his blog. It’s a great read and gives all sorts of fascinating insights into perils and predations of intellectual property and games. I believe the second part is coming out on Monday, and the final part the Monday after that.

Second, it seems that WotC may have lifted parts of Jennell Jaquays’s Central Casting: Heroes of Legend, published by Task Force Games in 1989, for their “This is your Life Section” of Xanathar’s Guide to Everything. Ms. Jaquays posted on her Facebook feed that she has “chatted with the designer, and they are mortified that this happened.” And is drafting a response to Wizards with a proposal for a reasonable solution to the alleged plagiarism. Compare and contrast the arguments for infringement with Robert’s arguments about intellectual property and games, and your mind‘ll be reeling.

Lastly, and on a more upbeat note, a Kickstarter for The Lost City of Gaxmoor for D&D 5e just dropped. This massive, sprawling, sandbox adventure is the brainchild of Ernie and Luke Gygax. So that’s worth checking out.

I’m out. Until next time, kids, keep rolling those 20s!

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Author: SRM

Stephen began working on RPGs in 2000, when he became the RPGA editorial assistant at Wizards of the Coast, working on both Polyhedron magazine and Living Greyhawk Journal. Over the years he's administered the Living Greyhawk campaign, aided in the development of the D&D 3.5 Edition rules, was a developer for D&D 4th Edition and Star Wars Saga Edition, taught numerous game design classes in the Seattle area, and contributed to the Pathfinder RPG Advanced Player's Guide and Ultimate Magic as a freelance designer. He worked at Paizo for nearly nine years as a designer and then senior designer for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. He's also the guy who designs the Pathfinder Flip-Mats, Flip-Tiles, and Map Packs. His current credits include Southlands for Kobold Press, as well as Hell’s Vengeance: For Queen & Empire, Horror Adventures,  Villain Codex, and Ultimate Intrigue, Ultimate Wilderness, Pathfinder Playtest, and Pathfinder Second Edition all for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. He was also on the initial design team for the Starfinder Roleplaying Game and wrote Dead Suns: The Thirteenth Gate adventure for that game. He served as the senior designer for the Pathfinder Playtest and the Pathfinder Second Edition Roleplaying Game. Currently, Stephen is a freelance game designer, content writer, and consultant working with various companies when he is not spending time with his family, wrangling kittens, and working on Delve. Delve is a culmination of Stephen's ideas about tabletop roleplaying games over the past 19 years. It's a new look at d20-resolution systems and traditional fantasy roleplaying game design and tropes through the lens of more modern modes of game design. And Stephen sincerely hopes you enjoy playing it because that's the point.

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