So, I have been busy with work and playing other games (always looking for cool easy mechanics that can be used in other games, playing TTRPGs is like being at a really cool buffet).
Last weekend I GMed some HEART: The City Beneath and found a solution to a “problem” I have been thinking about for quite some time (not a big revelation, I am just slow at realising things). I wanted to somehow abstract HP from enemies and give a whole situation or scene a threat level and something that needs to be overcome to resolve a scene.
I like the idea of a crisis pool, a mechanic used in Cortex Prime. The GM assembles a dice pool representing the threats in a scene and players roll and try to chip away at the dice pool removing dice from it. When all dice from the crisis pool are gone, the situation is resolved and the GM narrates the outcome.
ICRPG is not a dice pool system, though. So for some time I didn’t really know how I could translate a similar feel to an ICRPG-game (if at all).
Last weekend I was GMing HEART. HEART is a pointcrawl-adventure that reminds me a lot of Darkest Dungeon. Players venture forth into an underground city, delving into the depths to find treasure. The game is divided into starting at a landmark going into a delve. Landmarks are safe havens, where people regenrate the stress they incur, while delves are the dangerous dungeon-bits.
The interesting thing about delves is that they have a kind of statblock that looks like this:
ROUTE: delves are connections from A to B, so instead of some kind of travel montage one could use a delve as a template instead
TIER: every delve has a tier ranging from 0 to 3 to indicate how stable reality is going to be and how weird things are going to get, this could be represented by a target number
DOMAINS: same as for landmarks
STRESS: Characters in HEART don’t have hitpoints they have resistance tracks and can suffer stress to them.
RESISTANCE: This is the interesting bit. Delves have hitpoints in a way, which players have to collectively inflict for a delve to be over.
DESCRIPTION: a longform area description (could also be bullet points to keep it concise)
EVENTS: which can be a bulleted list of encounters while on the delve or a specific goal to accomplish within the delve (like establishing a connection between two landmarks or killing an adversary in the delve etc.).
What caught my attention was the idea of giving a delve hitpoints. For an ICRPG-game we could also give a scene hitpoints and apply an already existing rule: Effort is not only damaging things (although that seems to be the default) but could also mean appling effort to a task to resolve it.
Giving a scene hitpoints in an ICRPG-game could therefore look like this:
- Cultists of the Drowned Queen and floods of water are coming towards the Temple of the Moon-Beneath
- Help Sister Arielle to perform the warding ritual to keep the city from drowning ()
- define things characters can do to apply effort (and “damage” the scene to resolve it, work with timers to create time pressure)
- build barriers to keep the waters at bay (D4)
- lead the inhabitants of the city to safety (D6)
- fight the cultists to keep them from entering the temple (D8)
- help Sister Arielle chanting incantations (D10)
In this way, it’s not about fighting the cultists and killing them (because they have no individual hitpoits) but about trying to find other ways to “damage” the scene. Making checks and rolling effort stays the same (although the effort categories on the character sheet strictly do not apply here aymore), but this opens up the possibility for homebrewing abilites that are not combat-related.
What do you think? Does this sound like a hassle? Does it sound cool? Do you have alternative takes on the idea? Let me know and take care y’all.