Friday, September 10, 2010


Now we get to the core of this game. Lightsabers are the big draw of the jedi. They look cool; they sound cool; and they get a ton of use in the prequels. If this is a game about jedi of the Old Republic, lightsabers have got to have a staring role in the game.

Here's the thing though: traditional RPG combat design just doesn't work for lightsaber combat. First of all, the roll to hit, roll to defend, roll for damage system makes things go far too slowly, especially when you look at the duels in the prequels. In those especially, the lightsabers move from attack to attack with blurred speed. Plus, as I noted in the design elements, no one takes an incidental hit in these films. Again, traditional RPG combat design has you wear down a pool of health or slowly stack up wound levels with a series of hits. That's not what happens in the films.

I've seen hit points abstracted into something else as a way of trying to explain this. For example, in an early d20 version of Star Wars, characters got vitality points and hit points, and combat examples between jedi cited that near hits that the defender blocked were the hits that came off vitality. It's an interesting concept, but to me it felt disingenuous. After all, the defending jedi still had a defense score. You beat that, you land a hit and wear away at his health. Narratively, however, you didn't. There was a conceptual disconnect there that I couldn't bridge.

So in my game, hits will be hits. Real hits. Bad, damaging hits. Anything else doesn't hit.

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