Sunday, December 28, 2014

Mind... err, Soulflayers.

+Erik McGrath

New Stuff

16 Bit Tactics needs more monsters. It needs me to work on the gear section as well but monsters are more fun and so they win out.

So to that effect, today's post comes with an updated monster doc. I've added damage affinities (Weak, Strong Absorb) to all the existing entries and as you can guess from the title and the adorable creature pictured here, I have also added Flayers as a monster type.

Flayers blast your mind. At low levels they aren't that scary, all they do is squiggle with their tentacles and spray ink at you (Blind). Mid-level ones have the irritating ability to dispel your positive statuses and high level ones have Mind Blast. And that's always bad. One thing to note is that all these attacks also deal full, normal, dark element damage. So they can't just be laughed off and the statuses removed. You'll need items or plenty of MP to handle these guys.

Next Up

The monsters are still on my mind so here's the upcoming ones: Hydra, Demon, Dryad, Coerl, Chocobo, Automaton, and Minotaur. 

In addition to the additional types of monster will be variant monsters. If you look at the doc now, you may notice that all dragons breath fire and that all flan are water-type. Those are some obvious ones begging for variants. In most cases a variant is as simple as just changing the element of an attack and altering its damage affinities to conform.

Sometimes though, you aren't just switching out a power but adding a new one. Maybe you want to make one of the monsters a spellcaster, so you give it Thundaga. In this case, the monster might be more dangerous than another monster of its level so you need to increase the XP awarded. To figure out how much, I'll be going to the school of B/X D&D and counting special abilities and then setting an award based on that. 

The current XP/AP system only uses level as well as relative number of monsters and PCs to determine the XP/AP award. It doesn't count monster type.


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Now with Undead

+Erik McGrath

Ah, holidays. This entire time of year, from Halloween to New Year, tends to get devoured and all I have to show for it is a couple new monsters for 16-Bit Tactics.


Skeletons and Ghosts make their first appearance. I picked them to get a physical and a non-physical undead up and running and, of course, because I have LEGO figures for both. I have zombies and mummies as well, but those two will have to wait. 

Skeletons have a mix of attack types as they level: a melee attack, a ranged ice attack, and an AE drain. Their physical attack does the most damage, but the others have status effects and can be useful against those with low M.Def/M.Eva. They are pretty typical fighter types otherwise. Good DEF, middling M.Def, high HP.

Ghosts have only magic dark attacks. Two are melee; one sleeps the other drains and poisons. Then they have an AE ranged dark blast. They have lower HP but top rate EVA/M.Eva, and since they are insubstantial they have Resist Physical. So even though they have no defense (it's the same as their evasion ratings so it almost never applies), they still take half damage from all physical attacks. Best break out the spells on these guys. They also float/fly and no one seems to like fighting them for some reason.

The unique part about undead though is that they don't stay dead for long. When reduced to 0HP they gain a countdown effect. When the countdown runs out they revive with half HP. The only way to stop this is to apply an effect that cancels Doom. Holy Water is one way. Reraise is another. If those aren't options you still win the battle if all the enemy are KO'd, so you can time it to take all the undead down within 3 rounds of each other.

Elemental Effects

One major thing adding undead has made me think off more is how to make the elements more distinct. As of right now there is really no difference between them and few abilities reference an elemental type other than to color the damage. Clearly this will not do. 

I already have the Resist keyword so to make this work as a minigame that encourages characters to buy different elemental abilities I need to add two more keywords: Weak and Absorb. There will be no Immune condition since I don't like when nothing happens. With this system either you get less damage, more damage, or you heal the target. 

Undead typically Absorb Dark and are Weak to Fire and Holy. To get this in I will be using some of the white space left on the monster sheets to add an Elemental Affinities section that will list how they react to each element. Broader traits like the Ghost's Resist Physical will not be spelled out here since they are so powerful they will continue to occupy a Support ability slot.

Coming Up

Other things in the 16-Bit pipeline include:
Mounts (Kweh!)
More Monsters (demons, machina and some classic heavy hitters like Behemoth)
Boss Monsters 


Only Monsters is updated. The others are for convenience. 

16-Bit Tactics Jobs
16-Bit Tactics Gear
16-Bit Tactics Monsters

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

16 Bit Tactics Usable Rules

+Erik McGrath

As promised, I have been working on 16 Bit Tactics. Below are 4 links to get all the current parts of the game. With these you have everything you need to play, but not everything I want to give you.

What's Missing

In particular there are no guidelines on how to set up battlefields, nor are there any stats on how the power of characters and monsters compares at different levels. A Level 2 creature is undeniably more powerful than a level 1, but I have't crunched the numbers to tell you how much more dangerous it is.

Summoners are also incomplete. All their job abilities are costed and written up, but what their summons actually do is not detailed. This is because I can't decide on what they should actually do. I am torn between them being one-shot spells like in many of the older games, or if they should actually create a minion on the battlefield that the summoner can then control.

The first method makes them similar to Black Mages but with added utility, since some of the summons have status or support effects as well as nukes. The second method makes Summoners much more tactical and would serve as a good base for when Beastmasters are introduced. It would be simple enough to make a monster template for each summon and then let the summoner spend their actions to command the creature each turn.

Any feedback is appreciated.

The Gear section is very bare bones as well. I have not finished the costs of equipment because I haven't finished the loot system for Tactics yet. So this means I have no information on what items you should expect to have by level and there are, as of yet, no consumable items.

What's Coming

Next on the docket is formatting the rules document, then combining everything into a single file. From there the monster section needs to be expanded with more types of enemy, and consumable items are a must as well.

To get to the consumables, a robust loot system is needed so that you know how much GP to expect for each character and what a defeated enemy should leave behind.

A full character sheet is on the list as well. Right now I just use index cards to note what a character has equipped and its cumulative stats. The Job tracking sheets are used to keep track of AP gained and spent.

And with that said, an experience system is needed. How much XP and AP should a character earn? Currently that amount is 1XP and 1AP per level of the defeated enemy. Add up all the enemies and then divide this among the PCs. Since it's linear and the power curve is a very steep linear curve it makes lower level enemies much more valuable for the effort expended. I've also thought of squaring the level of a monster to get its reward. I don't know if this will work yet. 

Finding the right number to level up is tricky as well. 100 is too much and 25 is too low to just be linear. I think 25*(current level) looks reasonable. That would mean that it takes 1125XP to get to level 10 which gives you enough AP to completely master 2 Jobs and make progress on a third.

16 Bit Tactics Links

Rules - No Format

Saturday, October 11, 2014

16bit Games and 32bit Issues.

+Erik McGrath

Lately I have had what can only be termed catastrophic computer issues. Luckily all my Inspired stuff was backed up outside my machine. Unluckily I had to re-find all my programs and get them installed so I could work on things. I am almost done doing that.

Once all that is settled it's back to work. My current plan is to do some more with 16 Bit Adventures. Once I have an adventure module for each level up to 10, I can call it done. I also need to work more on 16 Bit Tactics and get those monster stats finished. With jobs, enemies and gear done, the skeleton of the system will be usable, after that it's how battlefields should be built.

Personally I use LEGO

This is a 32x32 blue plate divided up into an 8x8 grid using 2x4 blocks. Ultimately I plan to get colored plates to more clearly show the grid but for now I settle for changing the orientation of the blocks. This is a good size for a 3v3 or 4v4 battle. It gets cramped with more and feels a little empty with less, besides which a 2v2 battle is in itself too small for Tactics to handle well.

Each color is a specific terrain type. Green is grass, yellow is sand, blue is water, tan is earth (I don't have brown blocks), and grey is stone. Counting the water as HT 0 there are 5 different HT values shown here. This breaks up line of sight and gives an advantage to the high jump rating jobs: Thief, Ninja, Monk, Dragoon.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


+Erik McGrath

It's been awhile since I stepped back and looked at everything playable that we've done. Other than the unformatted 16Bit tactics rules these are all presentable PDFs that aren't embarrassing to have people download. Luckily I don't embarrass easily so the ugly one is up here as well.

16 Bit

16 Bit Adventures v2
Adventure in Firstown
Stopover in Secondville
Five Burrows Fiasco

16 Bit Tactics (unformatted)
16 Bit Tactics Jobs


Celestial Warriors v3


Sudden Death PnP v4
Squabblin' Corbies v1

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The trouble with layouts

+Erik McGrath

I'm not yet any good at layout. I have been attempting to learn as I go for some time now, but progress has been slow. I only have what I can term 'reasonable results' with Powerpoint and LaTeX, neither of which you could call industry standards for RPGs.

This has been most telling, and frustrating, for 16 Bit Tactics. 16BT has a lot of tables and graphics that require a considerable amount of effort on my part to make them usable by humans. From this experience I have begun weighing other options for getting useful documents into the hands of people who would like them.

Option 1: Screw It

The simplest option is just don't bother. I can always use my notes to play and hand out said notes to others who wish to play. Those are the only advantages I can think of.

The disadvantages are that I'm supposedly making games and part of that is making them look like someone spent some time doing that. Presentation is a big deal if for no other reason than what it says about your commitment to helping people enjoy the game. 

Option 2: Fake It

Powerpoint and LaTeX give me results. Not pretty but it is coming along. I'm very familiar with both programs as well as the rest of the MS suite and I used them constantly in college to put together reports, grants and presentations. All the things I have released so far for 16 Bit Tactics were done in Powerpoint.

The pro here is that it does eventually give me results and I already know how to pull the levers. The con is that I'm pushing the limits of my tools so there will be a maximum benefit wall reached soon in terms of time input vs work output.

Option 3: Suck It Up

Just keep banging my head at it and work toward a breakthrough. My experience with GIMP (used heavily for Battle Tank, mainly by +Christopher Andersen ) has not been positive in the Suck It Up column. I have done some things with it; they have been awful.

I'm basically starting at the bottom so there is nowhere to go but up. The downside is new programs are time intensive and these ones are hardly intuitive to me.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


+Erik McGrath

Recently I've been doing a lot of wargaming.

The first kind is Epic: Armageddon. It is an unsupported Games Workshop game based in the Warhammer 40k universe. I play Imperial Guard, Orks, and Dark Eldar and it's a tremendous amount of fun. The scale is 6mm so it is about companies of infantry and dozens of tanks, rather than the handful of units you would use in 40k or Warmahordes.

You can find out much more about it at Tactical Command or our G+ Community.

The second kind is a 25mm skirmish game that is being invented as we play. In this case, "we" refers to myself and my father. My old man is a combat veteran who served as a Field Artillery Surveyor. We're using WW2 and jumping around to include all the various belligerents. Yesterday was our first crack at using tanks and AT guns, specifically T-34s and a PAK 75. Previous scenarios have been located in Europe and focused on the Western Front with only a few games in the eastern theater. We plan to do a Stalingrad scenario soon.

Scale and Goals

The interesting thing about this, for me, is trying to keep a solid scale that can still allow meaningful activity. Rather than use telescoping distances or artificially low ranges on guns, we've opted to make 1"=10' (2.5cm=3m for our friends outside the US) and use a standard 6'x4' (180x120cm) table. This means that a rifle can reach out the entire length of the board, though it is not very accurate at that range.

A guiding principle is that casualties should not be high on a turn to turn basis when the units involved are standing off and using small arms. To accomplish this we are using a D12 roll-under system with a typical, regular infantryman having stats of 4. So to hit an enemy with his rifle you need to roll a 4 or less on a D12 assuming you have no modifiers, which is pretty rare. Cover, distance, whether the shooter moved, if the shooting is reactive vs active, is the shooter is pinned down, and other things all make it hard to hit. So far in play the most common scenario is that you get a -2 to hit, so you would need to roll a 2 on a D12 for a 1-in-6 chance of having any effect whatsoever.

Then when you do hit, you roll to see what effect you had: KIA, Wounded, Disrupted, or Nothing. KIA generally requires a critical hit and Nothing needs a Fumble. A unit that is Wounded gets a saving throw to determine how badly they are hurt. Disrupted is automatic and is a measure of suppression and loss of command and control.

To sum up our goals:

  • Realistic casualty levels
  • Leaders are vital
  • Each soldier matters
  • Objective based
  • Encourage use of real tactics
  • Playtime under 3 hours

Issues and Methods

The main difficulties encountered so far are mainly bookkeeping issues. Tracking who is wounded for instance as well as morale states take up a lot of time. Another related thing is damage to vehicles and structures. Tank armor varies a great deal, especially when you can turn your heavily armored turret to any direction.

So far there are tables upon tables to refer to. Streamlining those is going to be a major theme of the next few playtests.

The game has evolved and grown a lot in the past couple weeks. We began with only a few assumptions that I mention above and add 2-3 new rules or special effects each game. A new thing can be as simple as a weapon we haven't used yet or a new nationality or type of soldier. It can be complicated such as how to handle smoke. Smoke interacts with the visibility, area fire and windage rules, and it moves and disperses as well.

It is a lot of work, but it is also a lot of fun.


Once the rules are more settled, we will be doing some hacks for using popular 25mm games in our rules because I have a large number of models for them that don't get much use. A small unit of heavily armored superhumans vs a vast tide of aliens has to happen at least once. :)

We're also planning to do a demo this summer. We've already picked out a scenario: French Resistance vs German officers in the Paris Opera. With that we'll be able to showcase more than a dozen special rules including unarmed combat, bystanders, snipers, and heroes, as well as having several different troop types present.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Sometimes we just game

Recently I've been working on a few more things. Some are Inspired things as always but some are just things that I want to play or run. 

Inspired things

I'm a wargamer. 

I've played many varieties of wargame as well as other miniatures games that I prefer to call skirmish games. My personal favorite for company scale is Epic: Armageddon. It does all the things I like and requires a combined arms approach to win. For those skirmish games though I don't have a favorite. I have hundreds of models for several but I'm not sold on the rules for any. 

What gets me about them most is the treatment of linear distance. I understand that a 6'x4' table is not that big a space even at 25mm scale when you compare to the range of a rifle. But that just means I prefer to see that fact used, rather than worked around. I don't want there to be small squads of infantry running around with a mix of tanks and aircraft all playing in that same tiny space with their low ranges. If there is artillery on the board it ought to be an objective in this scale from my perspective.

To that extent, I've been working on a 25mm game that uses only the smallest amount of abstract range: 1"=10' but the models have 1" bases so it's a little loose at melee range. In this case, I like the fuzzy range because hand to hand combat is extremely chaotic and I don't want the game to bog down in an area that will typically not be a huge part of the action despite often being a decisive part of the game.

It uses d12s, one of my old favorites, and your basic trooper has 4s in their stats. There are 9 stats in 3 categoies: Combat (Firefight, Close Quarters, Hand to Hand), Discipline (Command, Initiative, Morale) and Physical (Carry, Move, Wound). We played a few test games using squads of WW2 soldiers (Russians vs Germans) taking a farm house.

So far the rules are behaving and giving pleasant results.

Just things

OSR Romance of the Three Kingdoms

For those that aren't OSR players the acronym means Old School Revival and refers to a collection of D&D editions and clones. My poison of choice for this game is Adventurer Conqueror King System. Normally just called ACKS.

I'm using ACKS basically intact though I customized the classes for this game (Courtier, Strategist, Doctor, General) and added Weapon Mastery adapted from the venerable Rules Cyclopedia I got in '91. I've also lifted some concepts from Flying Swordsmen. Not much of the rules from FS are getting used but the idea of Chi Abilities is there because I want to emulate the proto-wuxia flavor of the novel. The specific powers come mainly from Qin: The Warring States and are adapted to ACKS rules. 

One of my goals was to allow players to make anyone from Lu Bu to Zhuge Liang. So far I think it worked.

The game begins with the Yellow Scarf Rebellion in 184. The PCs are officers in Bing Province under the command of governor Ding Yuan and his chief secretary, Lu Bu.

Vampire Blood & Smoke

I'm a big fan of the new WOD reboots so far. Blood and Smoke has a lot of things going for it, specifically making the vampires more monstrous and their powers more interesting.

My game is set in Greater Boston in 1890. I've removed Clans as a rule and as an in-setting thing. Mechanically players get to pick their 3 Clan Disciplines, their Clan Bane and where their free Attribute dot goes rather than those being predetermined. Covenants et al work as written. For chargen I put a few limits and also give out more points in Disciplines: 6 total dots in Clan Disc ranked 3,2,1 and 1 dot in anything (can raise the 3 to a 4 or but a non-Clan Disc). The 10 Merit points also can only be spent on Merits and Blood Potency is 2.

I created 3 NPCs for each PC: 1 rival, 1 enemy, 1 neutral. The players got to define their rivals and enemies, the neutrals were essentially random. This gives us about 25 Kindred to populate the rather considerable area involved. It feels like a good amount.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

What do you want to see from Inspired?

+Erik McGrath

Where We Are

For awhile now I've been dedicating my free time to 16-Bit Tactics, and the majority of the things we've come up with at Inspired have been pushed back or left hanging. That's one of the problems we have here due to our staff also being our core gaming group. When we get together, we tend to play games of both the board and RP variety so that means we have to not do that in order to work on Inspired stuff together.

So here's an accounting of where the various things I've talked about are at. If any of them interest you feel free to demand more information or just let us know what you like.

Near Completed

Nothing has been physically published but as it turns out we do have a few games that are either finished PNP or so close I'm not really sure why they haven't been finished. 

Sudden Death: This could be printed as is but to sell it we'd need to polish the art. Specifically we need the artist to have time to do the rest of the pieces and of course the money to pay her.
Battle Tank: The expense of producing a board game is what stopped this project. It could be PNP as is.
Celestial Warriors: Our first RPG. Like the others, it's playable but it is not something I would even do POD given the layout is just MS Word mark up.
16-Bit Adventures: The layout is not high quality but its all in one package and you can play it from level 1-10 right now.
Squabbling Corbies: I did this one for a contest but we don't have the rights to the art. We could reskin the game and release it, or see if the artist wanted to partner up for a release. 

Rules Finished, Needs Polishing

These are the things that you could play, but are still in a choppy format.

16-Bit Tactics: My current obsession. The numbers aren't solid but it is achingly close. This one should move up to the next category and join the holding pattern soon.
Eight Directions: This was a 24-hr RPG that I never got back to. It's playable but very bare.

So Close, yet so Far

Here I'll list the games that are still in rough prototype format but that have working beta versions.

Chem 101: I think Chem 101 is our best prototype and it is currently the only educational game we have. The trick with it is we don't have a clear concept of the game part so it's purely an educational tool.
Drachenheim: We've hit a few snags and done several version of this card game. The last few versions were all decent games but it still feels like it's missing something. 
Aces High: Another achingly close card game. This one is all in the details because I don't want it to be any more abstract than it needs to be. 

Minimal Progress

We've had so many starts and stops on these as well as a few complete overhauls that despite all of them being in the first crop of "thing Erik wanted to do" we never got off the ground. 

Flash of the Blade: My first card game. Because it's one of my first ideas I am constantly re-thinking it. One day I hope to cut that out and just pick a direction and stick to it.
Gobbo Wars: In some ways this card/board game is a victim of its own cleverness. It was one of those things where I had some neat rules but then it got way too complex. It also feels too close to some other games out there so it needs more thinking on how to make it unique.
Romance of the Three Kingdoms: Battle Tank writ large. As a board game it is already fighting uphill and as a wargame it is going to end up complicated. Combined, those things mean it simply takes a lot of my time to make progress and that means not spending that time on the many other ideas already listed.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

16 Bit tactics: Format and Updates

+Erik McGrath

I have not been able to devote as much time as I would like to working on 16-Bit Tactics lately, but I have still managed some progress.

Right here is a pic of the current format, such as it is. I've been toying with a few ways to set things up and it's surprising to me how time consuming it all is. Ultimately it should be worth it to hammer out a decent format now rather than having a good idea later and needing to redo the entire thing.

For those following along at home there are two rules changes that you can see with this new Job sheet. First is that DEF/M.Def is now part of your current job rather than based on your current armor. Second is the addition of M.Eva.

The additive stats have been reformatted so that it's plain to see which things get added per level and which stay the same across levels. We will be keeping some form of the high/low threat rule for fighting creatures of much higher or lower level. With defenses and evasions now baked into Job, it will be much easier to word things as well.

Rules Explanations

If you squint you should be able to make out that Battle Tech includes 3 types of things: 5 weapon attacks, 1 self buff, and 1 unarmed attack. 

Weapon attacks are the largest subset of melee attacks. They use the normal rules. Since the generic Fight command is a weapon attack, this means that once a Fighter has learned any one of the 5 special attacks they have very little use for basic attacks.

Unarmed attacks are another subset of attacks. They work just like weapon attacks except you do not add any of the stats for your equipped weapon(s). Mostly this means you don't add its DMG bonus to your hits, but it would also ignore any elemental or status effects provided by the weapon. 

Buffs are a type of status effect. The effects themselves are standardized and they do not stack with themselves. So the DMG Up status granted by Focus would not combine with other affects that also grant DMG Up such as the Bravery spell. They do, however, stack with Support abilities that give the same effect as those abilities essentially change the character's base stats rather than giving a status effect.

Items and Gear

Just as a character has 5 slots for abilities, they also have 5 slots for equipable items. The mini table at the bottom of the Job sheet shows which items can be used. Unless an ability says otherwise, a character should only have at most one head, one body, one weapon and one shield equipped. Equipping two weapons (or a single, two-handed weapon) additionally precludes using a shield. For accessories the main limitation is that only one of each kind can be used. So you could have both boots and gloves, but not two gloves.


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

16 Bit Tactics Jobs Continuing Progress

+Erik McGrath

Good evening and thanks for bearing with me.

Included herein is most of a jobs document. I say "most" because Thief and Samurai are still missing rules for one JA each and Summoner has no descriptions for its JAs at all.

Jobs So far

Black Mage
White Mage
Red Mage
Dark Knight
Time Mage
Blue Mage

16 Bits, 16 Jobs. I like when things like that happen.

Coming Up

Now what I need to finish up is the rules themselves, and of course write up some gear and some example battlefields.

Monsters and enemy NPCs look like they will be simple. Common adversaries will just have levels in a single job, so when you encounter an enemy Black Mage all it is going to do is nuke. You won't need to worry about it knowing healing or status spells or being able to wear heavy armor.

Named NPCs, of course, are built like PCs and can have many different abilities available. I do not plan to create NPC-only Jobs though, so everything the enemy human-types can do is something that PCs are able to do. Barring any scenario special rules like them having control of a massive crystal that hurls Mega-Flare spells or similar.

There will be suggestions of how much XP/AP things like that should be worth though.


Sunday, January 26, 2014

16 Bit Tactics Progress

+Erik McGrath

As always, layout is the bane of my creative existence. Eventually I hope my skill in that area will improve; if not in quality than at least in time spent. But since this is the 40th birthday of D&D I wanted to be sure I made some progress.

Job Sheets

Here's a pic of the job sheets for Fighter and Black Mage complete with fancy, isometric sprites.

The top part shows the stats and values for each job as well as containing a space to record LV, XP, and AP. The AP box is handy but the LV and XP boxes are redundant since they are the same for each character regardless of job.

I decided to do these two jobs first because they are polar opposites of each other. The Fighter has the highest HP, DMG and ATK stats as well as the lowest values in MP, M.Dmg and M.Atk while the Black Mage is the exact reverse situation. With that said, you may notice that HP and MP are not on the same scale. Everyone gains some of each but HP range from 15-30 and MP from 3-20. DMG and M.Dmg are almost the same scale. Both have a minimum value of 3 but M.Dmg caps at 12 rather than 10.


This pic shows the complete list of abilities for each job. The Black Mage has only one option in both the Reaction and Support categories, and no Movement abilities at all. The Fighter, by contrast, has the very useful "Move+1" Movement ability and a choice of two each in Support and Reaction, though neither of their Support abilities are actually useful when Fighter is set as the main job because they are both Equip abilities.

If you add up the AP costs you will also see that to Master the Black Mage job it costs 200 more points than the Fighter. AP costs, as of now, are taken directly from the video games and that means that different jobs can cost different amounts to master and that is okay. The specific costs will certainly change in order to achieve better balance, but I am not committing to making the jobs all cost the same.

Mastering Jobs

As mentioned above, mastering a Job is easy, all you need to do is buy all of its abilities. As of now, what that does for you is grant permissions to use certain items and unlock additional jobs. I'm considering treating mastery as a bonus level so that when you finally master a job you get all the HP, MP, DMG and M.Dmg of gaining a level while that job is primary. 

There could be other benefits, such as allowing certain equipment in other jobs, but that can't be too much or it makes the Equip type support abilities redundant. In some cases it could allow a boost when using job abilities, so that your Fighter who has already mastered Black Mage isn't choking on a D6 M.Atk die.

But that's a problem for another post.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Job switching in 16 Bit Tactics

+Erik McGrath

My primary goal with 16-Bit Tactics is to create a system that allows players to switch jobs between adventures/battles and still meaningfully impact their advancement. Currently for 16-Bit Adventures there is no special rule for switching jobs, we just switch whenever someone wants to play something different. Since the only real decision point is to pick a job all they have to do is pick up the sheet for that job and then get assigned some gear.

That method is certainly simple, but it doesn't lend itself to mixing job abilities in the way that the tactics series does, nor even how FFV does. It also can't capture the sphere-grid nor license-board methods nor subjobs, etc. In short, it's not good enough.


There are two ways I've figured that will work to allow characters to switch jobs. The first is the FFV method. Separate job level from character level and assign specific stats to each. This would mean that a Level 10 character would have one profile and the current job level would modify that template.

The second is the FFT method and it assigns each job stats and when you gain a level you add the stats from the job you gained the level in to your own stats. There is no recalculating anything when you switch. The only thing that changes in this case is your Primary Job Ability.

The second method is the one I've been working on.


You have two kinds of stats, cumulative and static.

Cumulative stats are the values that change with level: your HP, MP, DMG & M.DMG.

Static stats are always the same and depend on your current job and active abilities. They are MOVE, JUMP, ATK, M.ATK & EVA.

Gear can influence any stat, both cumulative and static. Additionally, gear determines your base DEF & M.DEF. A few job abilities can modify these but for the most part it is the items you equip that govern them.

Here's a shot of the amended character sheet.

The main differences are the addition of Move and Jump, that JAs are no longer a list specific to the job and that items are more customizable. You can still only equip one armor, and still only have 2 hands but you could equip 5 different types of accessory (helm, cloak, gloves, boots, rings...).

Your primary JA is always determined by your current job. Fighters have Battle Tech, Monks have Kung Fu, Black Mages have Black Magic, etc. Your secondary JA can be any JA of any job you have unlocked.  Reaction, Move and Support abilities must be unlocked from different jobs with AP. Once you know a particular ability you may equip it regardless of your primary job.

Each primary JA is an umbrella under which all actions usable by that job are placed. If you have the JA equipped you may use any abilities governed by that JA that you have learned in any job.

Learning Abilities

This is where the other new entry on the character sheet comes in. AP are ability points and you earn them the same way, and often at the same rate, as you earn XP. Unlike XP, which simply tells you what level you are, AP allows a great deal of choice. Each ability has a particular cost in AP and you may spend them freely; you do not need to buy a job's abilities in a set order though you do need to buy all of them to master that job. Your job level is the number of abilities you know from that job.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Squabblin' Corbies

+Erik McGrath

I am participating in a contest at +Will Design a Game for Art . If you are not familiar with this the goal is to design a game based on artwork by +Laura Hamilton . You can see a few of the pieces I used in my design in this post. Please keep in mind that these all belong solely to Laura and that they are not for redistribution. 

If you'd like to see more of her work go here: Laura Hamilton's Portfolio.

You may recognize the ninjas in the top line as those from Sudden Death.

The Game

Squabblin' Corbies is a game for 2 players about two groups of ravens arguing over several objects at several locations near a village. These events are observed by a pair of children as they walk from their village through each location over the course of the day until they return home. 

There are 6 ravens, 6 places and 6 objects of note. All are numbered 1-6, Each player gets 3 ravens and tries to have them collect the items with their number and then get to the place with that number so they can nest for the night.

When rival ravens are at the same location they may squabble over the objects they are carrying. Since a raven can only carry one thing in its beak at a time it's important to know which one they take. Larger ravens take objects they like from the smaller ones (compare their numbers, higher numbered ravens are larger). However ravens don't take things they don't like so they will only squabble for an object if the smaller raven has either their favorite one (same number) or a similar one (number within 1 of the raven's).

Friendly ravens may freely exchange objects when at the same location so long as neither is forced to take an object it likes less than the one it carries. So be careful because that might mean it holds onto another of your raven's favorite objects.

The very smallest raven (#1) gets pushed around a lot but it is so quick that when in a squabble with raven #6 the little one wins. The player who controls #1 also takes the first turn.

The children act as a turn counter. After the second player takes a turn they advance the children to the next location. When the children advance off the last location, the game ends. As there are six locations, this means the game always lasts 7 turns.


Since the contest isn't over yet, Squabblin' Corbies is not available for public play. Once it's finished up though there will be a PNP doc for download. Hopefully it will contain Laura's art, but that is getting ahead of ourselves because I haven't talked to her about the aftermath yet. :)